News Release

March 13, 2009

Contact: Carolyn Pennington, 860-679-4864

Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise

Poison Prevention Week March 15 - 21

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Most of us take prescription drugs only for the reason the doctor intended. Nevertheless, an estimated 48 million people (aged 12 and older), according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in their lifetime. That figure represents approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in prescription drug misuse or abuse. This increase has led to a corresponding increase in ER visits because of accidental overdoses as well as admissions to drug treatment programs for drug addictions.

Experts at the Connecticut Poison Control Center (CPCC) at the University of Connecticut Health Center advise patients to follow the directions on their medicine bottle and not share drugs with others. “The most commonly abused groups are strong painkillers, stimulant medications and sedatives for sleep or anxiety,” says Amy Hanoian-Fontana, a CPCC educator.

“When you take prescription medicine, you also need to be careful about taking additional drugs, like over-the-counter meds or herbal supplements, and avoid drinking alcohol,” explains Hanoian-Fontana.

If you have children or teenagers living with you or visiting you:

  • Do not let children or teenagers take a prescription drug that was not prescribed for them.
  • Keep your medications in a safe area where only you have access to them.
  • Do a pill count. Know exactly how much medication you have so you can tell if any is missing.
  • Talk about prescription drugs. Stress that they are only safe for the person who receives the prescription from the doctor.

National Poison Prevention Week, the third week in March each year, is designated to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the 61 Poison Control Centers across the country. If you think someone has been poisoned from a medicine or household chemical, call 1-800-222-1222 for your Poison Control Center. This national toll-free number works from anyplace in the U.S. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you’d like to see a webcast about the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent accidental poisonings in your home, go to

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