Safe Storage and Disposal of Pain Medicines

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Safe storage and disposal of prescription pain medicine may save lives.

Safe Storage of Prescription Opioids

The misuse of opioids, including prescription opioids, is a major concern in communities across the country. Misuse means to take it in a way that was not instructed by your health care provider or pharmacist. People of all ages have been affected. Each day more than a thousand people are treated in emergency departments for not using prescription opioids as instructed. To reduce the risk of misuse at home, it is important to safely store and dispose of prescription opioids. 

Here are some tips for safe storage of opioid medicines:

  • Store in original packaging so you have the prescription information and directions for use and expiration date
  • Store in a locked cabinet or lockbox away from others, not in common rooms, like the bathroom or kitchen
  • Keep all medicines out of reach of young children 

Safe Disposal of Prescription Opioids

Unused medicines are a main source of misuse. Medicines that are simply thrown into the trash can be found by others and sold or taken to feel the medicine’s feel-good effects. Flushing medicines can poison the water supply. Properly dispose of leftover medicines to protect yourself, others and the environment. 

Here are some tools to find a medicine drop off location near you:

Ask your health care provider if they have medicine disposal bags. You can also mix unused medicine with dirt, kitty litter or coffee grounds and seal before throwing in the trash.

More Information and Helpful Resources

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