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September 10, 2014

LITTLE ROCK – Prescription drug abuse and misuse is growing at such a rapid rate that drug overdoses have eclipsed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all drug overdose deaths are caused by pharmaceuticals, such as prescription pain relievers. The problem of prescription drug abuse is particularly critical in Arkansas, which has led the nation in the abuse of prescription drugs by teenagers.

That’s why Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has partnered with other agencies to host this week’s Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Summit.  More than 650 participants, including medical professionals, law enforcement officials and educators attended the summit to hear from national experts on the best ways to prevent prescription drug abuse and provide treatment to those who need it.

The third annual summit came just days before the Ninth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 27. McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to promote awareness of this issue and encourage Arkansas consumers to participate in the Sept. 27 take-back effort.

“The prescription-drug abuse epidemic touches all our lives, as it’s likely that every one of us knows a friend or family member who has been addicted to prescription medication,” McDaniel said. “Because it affects all of us, it takes all of us to solve the problem, whether it be a physician who heard at our annual summit of an innovative and more appropriate way to treat a patient, or a consumer who merely takes the time to safely discard unwanted pills.”

Since the national take-back initiative began in 2010, Arkansans have safely and securely disposed of 52 tons of pills, and Arkansas is one of the leading states for participation in the program. 

Secure take-back locations will be available to consumers statewide from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 27. To find a nearby collection site, or for more information on the take-back initiative, visit  For consumers unable to dispose of their unused and unwanted pills on the 27th, Arkansas has more than 100 permanent disposal sites.

In addition, pharmacies and other medical facilities will be allowed to register as collection sites under new Drug Enforcement Administration guidelines that take effect Oct. 9.

Disposing of drugs at take-back sites helps keep medications out of the hands of potential abusers, and it also benefits the environment. Throwing pills away or flushing them down the toilet poses significant health and safety risks.

McDaniel urged consumers to help prevent prescription drug abuse by keeping these tips in mind:

  • Monitor every prescription. Take note of how many pills are in each bottle or packet, and keep track of refills.
  • Secure all medications, even over-the-counter drugs, in locations that are inaccessible to children, teenagers or potential abusers. The leading source of prescription drugs taken for nonmedical use is the medicine cabinet of a friend or family member.
  • Dispose of expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs promptly at collection sites sponsored by law enforcement agencies.
  • Prevent unauthorized refills by removing personal, identifying information from pill bottles or packaging before disposal.

For more information about prescription drug abuse or misuse, contact the Health Care Bureau of McDaniel’s Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982 or visit