Preventing Painkiller Addiction: Proper Storage, Maintenance, & Disposal

General

With more and more doctors dispensing prescriptions for painkillers in the United States, access to opioid medications is on the rise, as well as the abuse of prescription medicine. To protect your children, family, and friends, it is important to safeguard any opioids or other prescriptions that you may have in your home through safe storage and disposal methods, as well as close monitoring of your prescriptions.

Opioid medications should be stored just as securely as any valuable in your home. Rather than keeping prescription pills in a medicine cabinet, store them in a secured place where they can be locked up. Avoid leaving pills where they can be easily accessed, such as on a nightstand or countertop, or in plastic bags or transparent plastic containers.

Take accurate notes regarding how many pills are in each prescription bottle or packet; this will make it easier to notice when any are missing. Unusually frequent prescription refills can also be a sign that someone other than you is taking your medication.

Some children or teens receive legitimate prescriptions for painkillers, just like adults. However, many prescriptions can be extremely addictive. In these instances, it’s extremely important to monitor your teen’s dosage and refills, and to keep the medication in your control.

It may be pertinent to approach relatives and friends to encourage them to make sure their prescriptions are secure as well.

Finally, many people save excess painkillers for later use. However, any leftover opioids should be disposed of as soon as possible. Many communities host take-back events, where the public can bring unused medications to a central location to be disposed of properly and, more importantly, outside the home.

Abuse of prescription painkillers is a real epidemic. However, taking a few basic steps to ensure the safe storage and disposal of any opioids in your home can decrease the possibility that family or friends will find themselves with easy access to these highly addictive medications.