SALT LAKE CITY — The fridge hasn't been cleaned out in a few weeks. You open it, and the aroma of last week's pizza, overripe bananas and Sunday's pot roast — now mystery meat — greets you.
Old food is never pleasant, but leftover prescription drugs can be far more toxic when left on the shelf.
"There's no such thing as a safe medication leftover," said Greg Reid, SelectHealth community relations manager.
More people in the Beehive State die from drug poisoning than from car crashes, firearms and falls, according to the Utah Department of Health.
And 74 percent of Utahns addicted to opioids get drugs from friends or family members, according to Intermountain Healthcare.
"That's not handing them to them. They're finding them on their own in the home," Reid explained.
SelectHealth, Intermountain Healthcare, KSL, the Deseret News and the state prevention campaign Use Only As Directed are teaming up to encourage Utahns to throw out their old prescriptions before they fall into the wrong hands, especially children's.
On Friday, subscribers to the print version of the Deseret News will find a baggie tucked into their daily paper where they can deposit old prescriptions.
The compostable baggie also includes a list of 25 drop boxes at participating law enforcement agencies and pharmacies across the state, where people can dump their old drugs. Disposal at these locations is free of charge.
The groups "wanted to create a bag so people can actually physically go to their medicine cabinets ... put in the medications that they're not using, and find a way to dispose of them," Reid said.
The bags, designed to look like a prescription bottle, are "a great reminder," he added.
After disposal, both the bags and the medications will be burned in incinerators.
The groups will also distribute the baggies at events throughout the year. Reid hopes it will become an annual opportunity in Utah, similar to popular food donation drives.
In 2017, the Deseret News ran a series about Utah's opioid epidemic, showing the way addictions often begin innocently.
In one, a Utah mother developed an opioid addiction at age 24 after a car accident when her doctor prescribed Lortab and Percocet. She battled the addiction for the next 15 years. During this time, "my kids were on their own," she told the Deseret News.1 comment on this story
Addiction began in a similar way for Mike Bennett, a school superintendent and LDS bishop, the Deseret News reported.
He became addicted to opioids after being prescribed painkillers for a few different health issues. Eventually, others found out.
“All of a sudden I went from being at the top of the social and professional totem pole to the bottom,” Bennett said.
By getting more people to properly dispose of leftover prescription drugs, the groups hope to not only reduce impact to the environment, but also potentially help save lives.
For more information, visit useonlyasdirected.org.