The National Safety Council is taking a stand against prescription drug abuse for this year’s National Safety Month.

Among people 35 to 54 years old, unintentional drug overdoses cause more deaths than motor vehicle crashes. People who take opioid painkillers can quickly develop a tolerance and dependence to this class of drugs. When a person becomes dependent, he or she experiences unpleasant symptoms when they stop taking the drug.

“More Americans overdose on prescription painkillers than on heroin and cocaine combined,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of NSC. “Yet, these medications are marketed as the Cadillac option for treating pain. If doctors and their patients understand the risks and side effects, they can discuss safer, more effective options. Without an honest dialogue, we’ll continue to see a cycle of addiction and overdose that has made opioid painkiller use a public health crisis.”

Prescription opioid painkillers account for more drug overdose deaths than heroine and cocaine combined. If your doctor suggests taking opioid painkillers, be sure to tell him or her about any pre-existing conditions that will increase your risk. Some of these conditions include, but aren’t limited to: any personal or family history of addiction, anxiety, depression or sleep apnea.

In order to keep you and your family safe, it is important to keep all prescription medications locked up and out of sight. Never keep leftover medications. Dispose of unused drugs properly by checking with your local police department to find drug take-back programs in your community.

If you’re in Knoxville, unwanted or unused prescription drugs can be dropped off any time at the Knoxville Police Department’s Safety Building located at 800 Howard Bake Jr. Avenue.

To get more help on overdose deaths and any substance addiction, please visit