Patients and Families

Prevention. We all play a part.

Many people struggle with prescription drug addiction. We can all help keep homes, workplaces and communities safer by handling commonly abused drugs responsibly.

The three easy steps below — Take, Secure, Dispose — are a good place to start. If you have questions about prescription use or abuse, don't hesitate to ask your pharmacist.

Step 1: Take exactly as directed.

You should always follow your health care provider's instructions. If you change how you take opioids and other commonly abused drugs without talking to your provider, you increase the chances of serious problems including misuse, addiction and overdose.

Talk to your provider right away if you start taking prescription painkillers when you don't feel pain or if you're worried about opioid dependence.

Our pharmacists have a legal responsibility to ensure that the prescriptions they fill have been issued for a legitimate medical purpose. Because of this, they may question the prescribing of drugs, doses and combinations as well as other factors.

Pharmacist Tip:

Use prescription painkillers for the shortest period of time and at the lowest dose needed. Talk to your health care provider if the dose isn't effective.

Step 2: Store securely.

Commonly abused prescription medications like painkillers are highly sought after. Keep prescription medications in a safe and secure location in your home so that they cannot be taken by others.

We recommend storing prescription medications in their original bottles in one of the following:

  • locked cabinet
  • hidden location
  • lock box

Pharmacist Tip:

Keep track of the number of pills in your bottles and of your refills. If you need to refill more often than expected, there could be a problem.

Step 3: Dispose properly.

Unused or expired medication should not be kept in the home. To prevent abuse and accidental poisoning, always safely discard leftover medication.

3 ways to dispose:

  • Many communities operate safe disposal collection sites. Find a Location Near You
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has guidelines for disposing medications at home.
  • You can purchase an inexpensive mail-back disposal system. Get details

Pharmacist Tip:

Don't share your medication with others.

45% of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.1
Over 40% of teens who have misused prescription drugs report getting them out of their parents' medicine cabinets.2
#1 Drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the U.S.3

1 "Today's Heroin Epidemic," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; accessed 7/24/15.

2 2015 Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

3 Injury Prevention and Control: Data & Statisics (WISQARS") 2014, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;