Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

Last updated on May 6, 2019

In our last blog post, we explored how prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic in the United States. This week we will discuss how to prevent prescription drug abuse and what to do with any unused medications.

Many opioid abusers get the prescription drugs from friends or relatives for free, according to a study by JAMA Internal Medicine. Other sources include getting a prescription from one or more doctors, stealing or buying prescription drugs from friends or family and buying prescription drugs from drug dealers.1

It’s important to store your medicines safely around your house in order to prevent drug abuse. Below are some tips for protecting your friends and family, courtesy of the Alliance for Balanced Pain Management:

  •   Note how many pills are in each bottle, pay attention to your refills and follow instructions regarding the correct doses.
  • Only take your medications, no one else’s.
  • Store your medicines in a safe place that only you know about. Keep them out of sight and out of reach.
  • Discuss with your family and friends everything you’ve learned about storing and discarding medicines.2

Another important step in preventing prescription drug abuse is to dispose of your unused medicines properly. Many communities host drug take back events, in which you can drop off any unused medications. Check with your city government to see if such an event is available. You may also mix pills with cat litter or coffee grounds to make them undesirable. Then put the mixture in a disposable container with a lid or sealable bag and throw it in the trash.3

Some pharmacies have collection receptacles (e.g., MedSafe) in which you can dispose of controlled and non-controlled medications. Also you may purchase mailback envelopes. You may put any unused medications in these preaddressed, prepaid envelopes and drop them at your nearest mailbox or post office. Sharps Compliance offers a version called the TakeAway Medication Recovery System Envelope.

With prescription drug abuse on the rise, it’s imperative that you do everything you can to safely store and dispose of any unused medications.

  1 Sources of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers by Frequency of Past-Year Nonmedical Use

  2 Are You the Only One Taking Your Medicine?

  3 How to Dispose of Medicines Properly