Prescription drug abuse is a growing concern across the nation.

Krista Machado, prescription drug prevention project manager for Douglas County Citizens Committee on Alcoholism and she managies Partnership for Success project, gave an overview of how prevalent of a problem it is statewide and locally during First Friday Forum at Neosho County Community College, 900 E. Logan St., Ottawa.

The Kansas Partnerships for Success project’s goal is to prevent and reduce the incidents of prescription drug misuse and abuse for people ages 12-25 in Kansas, according to a DCCCA brochure.

Machado said nationally there have been 64,000 deaths associated with drug overdose and 50,000 involved opioids, which include heroin and prescription pain relievers.

“That is more people than who died from the AIDS epidemic,” Machado said. “We have more overdose deaths than we have motor vehicle accidents.”

She said the most commonly abused prescription drugs are pain medications, anti-anxiety and sleep-disorder medications.

Machado said in 2016 there were an average of 10 drug poisonings and hospitalizations each day in Kansas, according to the Kansas Hospital Association.

There were seven reported opioid drug overdose deaths from 2012 to 2016 in Franklin County, Machado said.

Statewide in 2016, there were 310 deaths associated with abusing prescription drugs, she said.

The amount of prescription drugs available for misuse is high. She said in Franklin County alone in 2016 there were 1.7 million opioids dispensed.

Machado said students receive a lot of misinformation when it comes to misusing prescription drugs. She said according to a Kansas Community Cares student survey in 2017 that 12.64 percent of Franklin County students thought there is no harm in taking somebody else’s prescription drug, which is nearly 3 percent higher than the state average. She said students thought if it was prescribed by a doctor, the drug must be safe, no matter how it was used.

“We are working on erasing those stigmas associated with that,” Machado said.

Other statistics in the survey revealed 7.69 percent of county students have reportedly misused prescription drugs and 4 percent did in the past 30 days.

She said 75 percent of the students who misused opioids said they received the prescription drug from a friend or relative.

“One thing we encourage is the safe disposal [of prescription drugs],” Machado said.

Ottawa has locations to safely dispose of prescription drugs. She said DCCCA and Kramer Pharmacy, 134 S. Main St., Ottawa, are partnering together to provide prescription drug disposal kits. She said those kits are also available at the Franklin County Heath Department, 1418 S. Main, Suite 1, Ottawa.

There are also permanent disposable bins at Walgreens, 1445 S. Main St., Ottawa, and the Franklin County Adult Detention Center lobby, 305 S. Main St., Ottawa.

Kansans safely disposed of more than eight tons of unused and unwanted prescription medicines a week ago in the National Drug Take-Back Day, according to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

“Safe storage and proper disposal are the keys to preventing the accidental or intentional misuse of prescription medications,” Schmidt said. “Kansans continue to recognize the importance of safely disposing of their unused medicines during these semi-annual Drug Take-Back events.”