By Heather Abraham

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Drug addiction is an epidemic in America, but it isn’t limited to illegal drugs.

Prescription drug abuse is just as bad. Many times, young addicts are getting hooked by using leftover drugs found in medicine cabinets right in their own homes.

However, you can’t just dump those pills down the drain because of environmental concerns.

Now, a new product can help.

“Ryan was very energetic, full of life. You knew he was in the room. I used to say he was like a train coming through because you felt his presence,” Lori Lewis said.

Lewis’s son, Ryan, died in 2014 from a heroin overdose.

She now knows the path to that tragedy began in their own home.

“It started with, we found out later, prescription pills which, he unfortunately got from my own medicine cabinet from a back surgery we had. I didn’t think we needed to lock those up,” Lewis said.

Studies show that a majority of people who abuse prescription drugs get them from family and friends.

“Sixty percent of patients in a recent survey reported that they’ve got leftover opioids in their home. It’s important to find a safe and effective way to dispose of those medications,” pharmacy expert Lee Mork said.

With the prevalence of opioid overdoses, a company has come up with a safe way to dispose of leftover pills.

“It works with any organic compound and will render drugs inert and non-retrievable,” John Mulcahy, of Verde Technologies, said.

Deterra is a pouch loaded with activated carbon, which deactivates drugs.

It’s really simple to use.

Just add your pills, some water and let it sit for 30 seconds. After that, zip up the pouch and throw it away. The pouch can go into a landfill and will break down over time.

“We are all concerned about the crisis going on in America with opioids and excess use of those, so it’s important to limit the supply of those out in the community and having them disposed of properly,” Mork said.

The Lewis family put their all into helping Ryan fight his addiction, but in the end, he lost his battle with drugs.

Now, with innovations like Deterra, they hope deaths like Ryan’s can be prevented.

“If you don’t need it, get rid of it. I can’t stress that enough. It doesn’t need to be kept in your house,” Lewis said.

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