Take Action: Prescription Drug Disposal

After a dental procedure, your dentist may prescribe you a medication to help relieve pain. These medications, such as hydrocodone or oxycodone, are very effective at minimizing post-operative pain, but sometimes, when used by someone other than the patient, they can pose a dangerous threat. Unfortunately, prescription medications have become a major source of drug abuse, especially among teens and young adults. They are often obtained from a friend or family member, and have also been stolen from medicine cabinets or even trash cans.

If you have been prescribed a painkiller and still have some on hand, you can help with this tragic epidemic that has spread across the country. To help prevent these medications from becoming a source of abuse, consider these steps, as presented by the experts at MouthHealthy.org.

Talk about it.

Instead of hiding your medications, or assuming that your family members know better, talk with them about the dangers of using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Be sure to stress that just because they are legal (for the patient they were subscribed for), they are not necessarily safe. Prescription drugs can be just as addictive and dangerous as illegal drugs.

Keep it secure.

Keep your prescription medications in a secure, unpredictable place. Instead of keeping them in your medicine cabinet, consider hiding them elsewhere, or better yet, keeping them in a safe.

Pay attention.

Keep a cautious eye on your supply, and take note of how many pills are left in your prescription. This goes for both your own prescriptions as well as your teens or other members of the household.

Dispose of them properly.

If you have leftover medication that you no longer want, follow these guidelines from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on how to dispose of them:

  • Follow any disposal instruction that may be present on the label of your prescription.
  • DO NOT flush medicines down the toilet or pour them down the sink, unless otherwise instructed to on the label.
  • Take unwanted prescription medications out of the original bottle and mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter in a sealed bag or container. This makes the pills less appealing and less recognizable to anyone who can see your trash.
  • Remove all personal information from prescription bottles to protect your privacy.

Alternately, you can participate in a drug take-back day which often occur several times a year at local law enforcement agencies.  The next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is happening this Saturday, April 29, 2017 at locations around the country. This initiative is aimed to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse. To find a location near you, go to this website, https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/

If you, or someone you love, is struggling with addiction, the confidential Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can reach them, free of charge, at 1800-662-HELP (4357).

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