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Medication Safety

April 3, 2018
Medication

When it comes to prescription medication, we may think to ourselves, “my kids or grandkids would never get into my medicine.” Or, “if taking one pill made me feel good, two pills should work even better.” And, “if it works for someone else, I should be ok to take that too.”

The American Association of Poison Control Center found in 2015 that 57% of all incidences called into their hotline involved pharmaceuticals (medication). According to the American Public Health Association, the United States is undergoing an epidemic of deaths caused by prescription drug overdoses. Every 19 minutes, someone in the United States dies from an unintentional prescription drug overdose.1 Results from a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicate that about 15 million people aged 12 or older used prescription drugs non-medically in the past year and 6.5 did so in last month.2 While this issue may seem complex, there are some simple steps we can take to make sure medications are used properly, stored safely and disposed of properly

Safe Use

Prescription medication is intended to help you better. If we are not careful and do not follow directions, we could get hurt. Here are some helpful tips to remember:

  1. Always read and follow the directions that with your medication.
  2. If you do not understand the directions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  3. Keep a list of all your medications and share it with your doctor or pharmacist.
  4. Never take someone’s else medication.

Safe Storage

It is our responsibility to safely store our medication at home. Here are some suggestions to remember before you store medicine in your home:

  1. Lock it up – Keep all of your medicine in a location unknown to guest and children.
  2. Monitor your usage – first, make a list of all the medicine in your home. Next, record how record how much has been used and how much remains.
  3. Do not combine all of your medication into one bottle. Leave them in their original container.
  4. Follow the storage directions that came with the medicine.

Proper Disposal

Common myths exist about drug disposal. Here are a few examples: “It’s ok to flush medicines down the toilet or pour them down the drain.” I can throw my unused medication in the trash.” “I can crush my medicine before disposing it.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides the following recommendations to dispose of your unused or expired medication.

  1. Almost all medicines can be safely disposed of by using medicine take-back programs or using U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) authorized collectors.

Locations in Vigo County that will accept your prescription drugs.

  1. If take-back programs are not available to you, most unused medicines can be disposed of in your household trash. First, mix the medicines with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter of used coffee grounds. Then place the mixture in a container (zip-lock bag) and throw away.

Also, remember to never crush your medicine. It puts other people at risk of exposure to the drug through direct skin contact or by breathing in the dust.

References

  1. American public health association: https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2015/12/08/15/11/prevention-and-intervention-strategies-to-decrease-misuse-of-prescription-pain-medication.
  2. Department of Health and Human Services: https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/everyday-healthy-living/safety/use-medicines-safely
  3. Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse: https://www.samhsa.gov/topics/prescription-drug-misuse-abuse

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