Living 50 Plus - June 2020


C6 JUNE 2020



Do Your Part to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

(StatePoint) With many Americans asked to stay at home to help curb the impact of COVID-19, there’s a higher risk of potential prescription drug abuse or prescription drugs accidentally falling into the wrong hands, like those of chil- dren. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Abuse, more than 9.9 million Americans abuse prescription drugs. Additionally, more than 70 per- cent of individuals who illegally use pre- scription pain relievers obtained them through their friends or family, includ- ing through the home medicine cabinet. To help those at home prevent prescrip- tion drug abuse and dispose of unwanted medications in a safe, environmentally responsible way, Susan Peppers, Express Scripts vice president of pharmacy prac- tice, is sharing the following tips.

Medications should be stored in a locked area, out of children’s reach, with narcot- ics and other potentially addictive drugs stored in another secure location. If this isn’t an option, a lock should be added to the medicine cabinet and the key se- cured. • Track treatments. It’s recommended to maintain a master list of the medications stored at home, especially for individu- als with a potential for abuse. That list should include the medication name, the doctor’s name who prescribed it, the dosage and the medication’s poten- tial side effects. Periodically, caregivers should count the medications remaining in the container and make sure it’s the correct amount according to the pre- scribed dosage. Pill boxes with dividers for each day’s medicines are also a good way to track usage. • Don’t share medication. Medication prescribed to one individual isn’t for

anyone else, even if that person is show- ing similar symptoms. Not only is shar- ing medication with someone else ille- gal, but it could lead to dangerous drug interactions and serious side effects due to potential allergies and wrong dosag- es, among other reasons. If an individ- ual has taken medication that wasn’t prescribed to them, they should contact their doctor. • Dispose of unwanted drugs properly. Individuals should follow specific dis- posal instructions on the label, if provid- ed. Otherwise, they can check the Food and Drug Administration Flush List to see if they can flush the medicine down the toilet. If that isn’t an option, indi- viduals can mix the medication with an undesirable substance like used coffee

grounds, cat litter or sawdust, place the mixture in a sealable bag and dispose of it in the trash. Medication containers should be stripped of all personal infor- mation prior to placing them in the trash or recycling. Note that once guidelines are lifted for staying home, individuals can visit the Drug Enforcement Administration web- site to locate a collection site near them as another way to dispose of prescription medications safely. As everyone is spending more time at home, remembering these simple steps can go a long way to help individuals protect their family against prescription drug abuse.

• Keep drugs secure and out of reach.

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