The Dangers of Sharing Prescription Medicine
You’re almost through your first semester of college. There’s just one thing: that dreaded Accounting 101 final. A “helpful” roommate offers a little of her Adderall, which was prescribed to her to help her focus.
Wrong. Taking pills prescribed for someone else can be very harmful and dangerous. Never take someone else’s prescription medicine. It’s also against the law. You and your roommate could face charges. Learn more about Youth-Specific Issues.
When Your Medicine Isn't Working
You go home after hip surgery and find the Vicodin you’ve been prescribed is not dulling your pain. You can try the OxyContin your wife takes for her bad back. Or even combine it with your painkiller. Two’s better than one, right?
Neither. It’s unsafe, abusive and illegal to take a prescription intended for someone else, and it can have dire consequences. Deciding to increase your dosage without consulting your physician or pharmacist is misusing your medicine. Learn more at Guidelines and Tips.
Helping Your Parents
Your 82-year-old mother lives alone and takes lots of medicine for her heart and arthritis. You wonder if she’s taking the right pills at the right times, especially since different doctors are prescribing her different meds.
Meet her doctors. Make sure they’re aware of all the medicine your mother is taking. Be sure her specialists report back to her primary care physician. Make sure the doctors provide written instructions along with a list of possible side effects. Write out a chart so your mother knows which pills to take, each day, at specific times of the day. Make sure your mother understands both. Buy a calendar pillbox for her and stock it with the appropriate medicines. Use one pharmacy for all of her prescriptions so the pharmacist can better determine if the medicines pose any danger. Learn more at multiple medications here.
When Medicine Gets Old
Well, you’ve thrown your back out again. You’re trying to save some money, and in your medicine cabinet you find those old pain pills you had from the last time you threw out your back – two years ago.
How To Dispose of Your Unwanted Meds
Your husband wants to clear out the leftover OxyContin he had for his surgery last year. He’s just about to dump the leftovers down the garbage disposal when you walk in.
Stop him. Medicine should not go down a drain. We’re learning more and more about how flushing or dumping them can hurt the environment and contaminate our water supply. The best way to dispose of all medicine is to return it to a safe disposal location near you.
What to do when you can’t go to the safe disposal location
You know you shouldn’t flush your old Percocets down the toilet, but your adult kids and grandchildren are due to arrive in just a few minutes for a long weekend visit, and you want to be sure the house is safe for everyone. You know the best way to dispose medicine is to take it to the local safe disposal site, but there’s no time.
A locking medicine storage container at home is ideal for storing unused or expired medication until you can safely dispose of them at a local drug disposal unit. If you do not have a locking medicine container where you can temporarily store your medication, you may have other lock-able options such as a file cabinet, gun safe, or fire-proof safe for valuables.
If you have no other choice, you can dispose of most medicines in household trash if you do the following:
- Remove them from the original container (make sure you remove the label, scratch off or cross out any identifying information).
- Mix with something that can’t be eaten, like kitty litter, coffee grounds, saw dust, home cleanser, etc.
- Place the mixture in a sealable bag or other durable container that prevents leakage.
- Wrap the container in newspaper or a plain brown bag to conceal its contents. Place it in your trash the day your trash is collected.
Keeping Your Kids Safe
Your best friend is the father of a teenage girl who recently got caught stealing prescription painkillers from the medicine cabinet at her home. She took them to get high. You have a teenage son.
You should know what prescription drugs are in the house, and monitor them. Keep them locked in a box or other secure location. Start an ongoing conversation with your son. Make sure he knows the dangers of taking someone else’s prescription medicine, and also learn what challenges and stresses he faces every day. Watch for signs he might be using a substance he shouldn’t, and quickly find help if he is. Learn more about Safe Storage here.