According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 15 million people, ages 12 and above, report misusing prescription drugs.
It is important to be mindful if you are taking medications such as:
- Opioids (for pain)
- Sedatives (for anxiety/sleep)
- Stimulants (for ADHD/weight loss)
These medications are often stolen by family or friends. Some believe these medications are a safe way to “get high.”
Do not share medicine. Sharing controlled substances is not only against the law, but can lead to misuse and overdose.
Lock Them Up
If you are currently taking prescription medications, lock them up. If not locked up, medications could get into the wrong hands of family, friends, young children or strangers.
- Store medications in a locked cabinet, drawer, suitcase or safe.
- Do not store medications in kitchen cabinets or unlocked bathroom medicine cabinets.
- Do not leave medications out in the open, such as on a nightstand or in a purse.
- Do not take medications in the presence of children.
- Count your pills on a weekly or monthly basis.
- If you suspect that medication has been stolen, notify the police and your doctor.
Safe Medication Disposal
If you no longer need a prescription medication, it is important to dispose of remaining doses. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) maintains a searchable list of local safe disposal locations. If possible, participate in your community’s take-back programs. If there are no take-back programs available, follow disposal instructions furnished by the FDA.
- Do not flush medications down the toilet.
- Before disposing of empty medicine packaging, scratch out all prescription information on the label.
- If there are no take-back programs or authorized collectors available: Using a separate container (such as a plastic bag or jar), dissolve (do not crush) medicine with tap water. Add an unpalatable substance like laundry detergent or used coffee grounds. Reinforce sealing before throwing in household trash.