Drugs come in many different types and forms. There are illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin that can be incredibly dangerous. There are also prescription drugs which can be very safe and beneficial when used as directed. However, prescription drugs also come with their own risks if misused. Properly managing prescriptions can help to keep these medications out of the wrong hands and curb misuse that could lead to addiction.
Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
Misuse of prescription drugs doesn’t only mean taking more of a medication than directed. It also includes taking someone else’s medication. Everyone’s body responds to drugs slightly differently, so while a medication was safe for you, a friend might have an adverse reaction. They also may not have the same condition or symptoms to warrant using the drug, so it could lead to serious health problems. Plus, it may interact with other medications they are taking, food or drink they have consumed, or underlying health conditions. Furthermore, some drugs can be highly addictive making managing prescriptions even more imperative.
Lock Them Up
It’s always a good idea to store prescription drugs in a safe place. Instead of putting them in the medicine cabinet with over-the-counter drugs, you may want to consider locking them up so they don’t get into the wrong hands. This can be especially important for medications that are commonly misused such as painkillers, anxiety medications, and ADHD drugs. Keep them out of sight and out of reach of others to be on the safe side.
Follow Prescribing Instructions
Make sure you read the directions on the bottle and ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions you may have about taking the medication. This could include things such as properly measuring dosages, understanding when and how to take the drug, being aware of side effects or signs of adverse reactions, and anything you should avoid while on the medication. Following instructions can help reduce risk of abuse and addiction.
Do Not Share
When it comes to managing prescriptions, sharing is not caring. You should be the only person taking your prescription drugs. If someone else needs or wants them, they should talk to their doctor about getting their own medical prescription. Keep medications in a safe location so others are not tempted to steal them. It can be a good idea to track how much you have taken so you know how many pills are left.
Dispose of Unused Medications Safely
If you have unused medication, don’t leave it laying around or save it “just in case” you need it later on. This can increase risk of it falling into the wrong hands and being misused. Instead, look for options to safely dispose of these drugs. There are national Drug Take Back Days twice a year in April and October, and some facilities accept unused medication year-round. These are locations where you can drop off medications, no questions asked, and they will safety dispose of them.
Previously, flushing medications down the toilet was recommended, but this is not usually the case anymore as they can unintentionally contaminate water. An alternative is to mix prescriptions with used kitty litter, sawdust, old coffee grounds, or another unappealing substance before sealing them in a bag or container and disposing of them in the trash. However, the safest option is still to turn them in at a drug take back collection event or facility.
In 2017, more than 17,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses. It is time to increase awareness of properly managing prescriptions and reducing risk of misuse. If drug addiction does become a problem, seek help at a respected addiction treatment center such as Crossroads. Professionals will work with you to create an individualized plan for recovery and overcome substance use disorders. Remember who you wanted to be free from the influence of drugs or alcohol through residential and outpatient treatment at Crossroads.