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Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, morphine, and many others. (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

While opioids can be a great tool when used as prescribed, they can cause devastating damage when used incorrectly.

Improper use of medications can be very dangerous.  Be sure you use all medications safely and effectively.

  • Be informed, ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions you may have
  • Inform your doctor of all other medications, vitamins, or supplements you are taking
  • Take all medications as prescribed, never take more than directed
  • Read and follow all directions and information
  • Never share your medication or take someone else’s medication
  • Keep a list of all medications you take
  • Use one pharmacy
  • Pay attention to expiration dates
  • Make sure you are taking the correct medication by never taking medications in the dark
  1. Why do I need this medication? Is it right for me?
  2. How long should I take this medication?
  3. How can I reduce the potential side effects?
  4. What if I have a history of addiction?
  5. What about the other medications I’m taking?
  6. How should I store my opioid medicine?
  7. What should I do with unused opioid medicine?
  8. Can I have an Rx for Naloxone?

(FDA)

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Lock

Part of creating safe living spaces is ensuring that all potentially harmful medications are kept in places that are inaccessible to children and anyone to whom they are not prescribed.

The Facts

94.22% of Kansas teens have never used prescription drugs not prescribed to them (KCTC,2020).

75% of Kansas teens who have used prescription drugs not prescribed for them have obtained them from friends or family members. (KCTC, 2020)

Opioid prescription rates decreased 13% from 2016-2019. (K-TRACS)

Opioid overdose deaths have decreased 17% from 2016-2019. (K-TRACS)

Theft and abuse of prescription medication is a serious problem. Over 75% of teens who abuse prescription medications obtain them by buying them, stealing them, or being given them from a friend or relative.

  • Keep medications away and out of sight and in a secure location
  • Store medications in a cool and dry area, instead of the bathroom
  • Lock up medications and provide guests with safe storage options
  • Keep your medications separate from other’s medications
  • Never leave medications on the counter
  • Monitor the amount of pills remaining to check for any missing medicine
  • Keep medications in the bottle it came in
  • Never mix medications in the same bottle
  • Keep the lids on pill bottles tightly closed

LEAD

Knowing how to safely dispose of your opioids is important to ensuring that there is not a surplus of them in your home. Unfortunately, most medications cannot simply be thrown away or flushed down the toilet.

To prevent accidental or intentional ingestion of potentially dangerous medications by children, or pets, the FDA recommends properly disposing of all unused and expired medications quickly.

  • Properly discard unused and/or expired medications
  • Do not keep extra prescription medications at home, especially medications with high abuse potential such as opioid pain relievers, stimulants, or depressants.
  • Scratch off all identifying information on the prescription label
  • Take medications to a local drop box
  • Participate in take back events
  • Most medications can be disposed of in household trash, to properly do so:
    • Remove medications from their original containers
    • Mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds
      • This makes the drug less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through trash seeking drugs.
    • Place mixture in a sealable bag or empty can
      • Sealing the bag or placing mixture in a can helps to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of the trash bag.
    • Throw the container in the trash
  • Flush prescription medications down the toilet only if the label or accompanying patient information instructs doing so.
    • To learn more about medications that are FDA approved to be flushed or thrown away visit, FDA.gov
  • Ask your pharmacist of your options for properly disposing your medications.
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