Inside the coroner's office: Utah prescription drug deaths remain high
Flush a pill and save a life
"It's not your typical stereotype that we all kind of have," Sollis said. "It's your mom, it's your neighbor, it's your cousin and, as we've seen in the news, it's a nurse, it's a judge. It can be anybody.
"We've made progress and the progress is the result of people coming together."
Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, was very familiar with the criminal side of the prescription drug issue through her work. But in 2009, it became an issue that hit home.
One September night, her 19-year-old nephew went to sleep and never woke up — his death caused by prescription drugs.
"He was a terrific young man, very heavily involved in sports and athletics," Rydalch said. "It was devastating to his immediate family and our entire family."
She thinks he turned to drugs, both street and prescription, in an effort to manage some undiagnosed mental health issues. The prescription drugs were the easiest for him to get, she said, and he returned to them after treatment, as is common with addiction.
"I think everybody recognizes this is an issue and concern," she said. "But when it impacts your family personally, it makes you all the more committed to do something so other families don't have to go through what you went through."
Even more, she has learned she is not alone. Her neighbors, colleagues and fellow church members have all been affected by it.
"It's an epidemic," Rydalch said. "It's a conversation we have to keep having because the impact on families is so significant and so tragic that I think people need to be aware of it and realize that it could touch them."
She and Sollis both urged the public to take part in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency-sponsored "Take Back Day" on April 27, in which the public can dispose of unused medications at a number of law enforcement offices around the state. Rydalch said there are a number of initiatives that she tries to support.
"Regardless of what it's called, it's all going toward this great goal of eliminating deaths from drug addictions," she said. "When these things happen, that's the best you can do."
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