How to safely store and dispose of prescription painkillers

FILE - This Aug. 15, 2017 file photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. Congressional investigators say wholesale pharmaceutical distributors shipped hundreds of millions of prescription opioid pills to West Virginia, a state disproportionately ravaged by deaths caused by the addictive drugs. Now, lawmakers want executives of those companies to explain how that happened. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

More than 70 percent of people using opioid painkillers for nonmedical reasons get them from family or friends. Misuse or diversion of these drugs can be extremely harmful and even deadly. Locking up prescription painkillers and other commonly misused drugs is the best way to keep them away from people who shouldn’t be using them.

Locking up medicines keeps children in the household safe and prevents other family members and visitors from using — or selling — medicines that are not prescribed to them. Consider getting a lock box, locked cabinet or safe for prescription painkillers such as Percocet, OxyContin or Vicodin, as well as the opioid addiction medication Suboxone.

[See: 4 Opioid Drugs Parents Should Have on Their Radar.]

Xanax and other tranquilizer drugs can be misused, and should also be locked away.

Monitor Your Medications

To keep your prescription medicines safe, you should monitor them. Note how many pills are in each of your prescription bottles or pill packets. Keep track of how often you need refills. If you need to refill your medicine more often than expected, it may be a sign that someone else is using it. Make sure grandparents are also monitoring their own medication.

[See: 6 Nonopioid Ways to Ease Postoperative Pain.]

Monitor your teen’s prescription medications, especially if they’re known to be commonly abused by teens, such as Adderall, Ritalin and painkillers. It’s not unusual for teens to start taking prescription painkillers for dental surgery or a broken bone, and then become addicted. And some move on to heroin from there. In other cases, teens start using painkillers that they get from a friend, or they take them from an unsuspecting family member.

Parents: Ask your teens’ doctors not to prescribe opioid painkillers, and to instead suggest other options. And talk to your teen about the dangers of opioid use. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has a resource guide parents can use to educate themselves and their teens about opioids.

[Read: Millennials Hit Hard by Opioids.]

Dispose of Medicines Safely

If you have unused or expired prescription painkillers, the Food and Drug Administration recommends bringing them to an authorized collection site, such as a police station or pharmacy. Some collection sites may also offer mail-back programs or collection receptacles to help people safely dispose of unused medicines. To find an authorized collection site near you, check this Drug Enforcement Agency website.

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How to Safely Store and Dispose of Prescription Painkillers originally appeared on usnews.com

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