Rx Drug Abuse Prevention

Next to alcohol and marijuana, the most common illegal drugs teens are using to get high are prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. A survey of teens ages 13-18 conducted by the Berrien County Promotion and Prevention Services found that:

  • 33% of teens had taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription during the past 30 days.
  • 45% of teens reported that it would be “very easy” to get a prescription drug.
  • 40% of teens reported that if they wanted to get a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription, they would get if from a “family member”
  • 14% of teens reported that there is “no risk” in harming themselves if they used a prescription drug not prescribed to them by a doctor.

Drug Abuse Statistics

According to a report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy

  • 1 in 5 teens has abused prescription drugs
  • 1 in 3 teens report knowing someone who abuse prescription drugs.
  • 1 in 3 teens surveyed said there is “nothing wrong” when using prescription drugs “every once and a while”
  • 8 out of 10 teens get prescription drugs from friends or relatives by stealing, buying, or simply asking for them
  • 25% of students were offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property


What you can do to help prevent your child or others from misusing prescription medication and OTC drugs:

  • Do an inventory of the contents of your medicine cabinets, bureau tops, or anywhere in your house where you may store medicines. 
  • Lockup secure your medicines.
  • If you currently need medications, secure them in a place where you can get to them easily, but where children are unlikely to look, not in the bathroom cabinet. 
  • Monitor the pill quantities and medicine levels in your prescription and OTC drug containers
  • If drugs in your home are left over from a previous condition or ailment, dispose of them safely.

Where to dispose of prescription drugs and medical waste

You can dispose of old and unneeded prescription medication at one of several Safe Pill Disposal Collection Units that are found throughout Berrien County. The medications may be dropped off with no questions asked and are open for disposal during regular business hours Monday through Friday. The medications should be placed in a sealable plastic bag or can be disposed of in their original containers. 

Safe Pill Disposal Locations (PDF)

Rx Disposal and Home Medical Waste Collections are held each year throughout the months of April through October in Berrien County where unused/outdated pills, liquid medication, medical sharps/needles, medical aerosols and patches can be disposed of properly. It is important for parents and grandparents to take a regular inventory of the contents of medicine cabinets, bureau tops, or anywhere in the house where medicines may be stored so they are less accessible to teens. 

Quick Links

Partnership for Drug-Free America


Recent studies show that children in Southwest Michigan are misusing prescription drugs as early as age 12. Not only is it important, but it’s far easier for parents to speak to their children about prescription drugs before they are exposed to future social pressures. We recommend starting the education as early as age 10. Talking early doesn’t have to be difficult.

Research proves that children and teens whose parents are engaged and hands-on in their day-to-day lives are much less likely to misuse prescription drugs and/or opioids. Here are some simple things you can do now to prevent future family issues:

  • Spend time with your kids by having dinner with them at least once or twice a week. Make it mandatory!
  • Relax with them while watching a movie
  • Talk to them about their friends and interests
  • Supervise your children and their activities
  • Establish standards of behavior. Tell your children what is expected of them in your home.
  • Set positive examples of healthy medication use. 

Where to find resources and help

TalkSooner.org is a website dedicated to helping Michigan parents open the doors of communication with their children specifically on the topic of prescription and other drug misuse. The site provides existing resources on a variety of drug-related topics. TalkSooner.org now has an accompanying free app available for iPhone through the App Store.