Practicing Safe Medication Habits Helps Make Homes and Communities Healthier
October 23, 2020
By: Ryan Russell, PharmD, Pharmacy Director, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center
Most of us have taken medicine to help heal from illness or injury at some point in our lives. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 82 percent of American adults take at least one medication and 29 percent take five or more. Medications are a frequently important part of the healing process and can be essential in managing ongoing conditions.
Handling Medications Safely
While medications can provide many benefits, their misuse can pose a serious health risk to you and your community. According to findings from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 53 percent of opioid abuse begins with the home medicine cabinet. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to get into the habit of practicing medication safety:
- Use medications responsibly. Take your medications only as prescribed by your provider, and don’t share your prescription medications with anyone. Medicines can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription or a provider’s supervision.
- Always keep a list of the medications you are currently taking, including ones you only take on occasion. Include the medication name, dose, how often you take it, the method for taking it (by mouth, injection, etc.) and the reason for taking it.
- In addition to your prescribed medications, don’t forget to include over-the-counter drugs, herbals, vitamins and dietary supplements. Share your list with close family members, and keep a copy in your wallet.
- Include any allergies, the names and phone numbers of your providers and your preferred pharmacy on this list.
- Don’t hesitate to ask your provider or pharmacist if you have questions about side effects or drug interactions with your medications.
- Store medications properly. Always relock the cap on medicine bottles, and keep your medicines in a safe and locked location out of the reach of children and out of sight from friends and visitors. Each year, approximately 60,000 children end up in the Emergency Room after accessing medications when adults aren’t present; and many people who become addicted to opioids get them from a friend’s or relative’s medicine cabinet.
- Safely dispose of unused or expired medications. Don’t throw your medications in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Medications that are thrown away can be easily retrieved and abused or illegally sold, and medicines flushed down the toilet can contaminate the community water supply. Safely disposing of your unused and expired medications can help prevent accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse, and promotes a healthy environment for your family and neighbors.
Find a Medication Drop Box or Take-Back Program Near You
Medication drop boxes are a convenient, hassle-free way to safely dispose of your unused and expired medications. Medication drop boxes are free and anonymous and can be found in the following locations in the Lewis-Clark Valley:
- Clarkston Police Department, 830 5th St., Clarkston
- Asotin County Sheriff’s Dept., 127 2nd St., Asotin
- Asotin County Jail, 838 5th St., Clarkston
There will also be additional sites on National Prescription Take Bake Day, Saturday, Oct. 24, from 10 am – 2 p.m.:
- Asotin County Fire Department, 2314 Appleside Blvd., Clarkston
- Lewiston Police Department, 1224 F St., Lewiston
Just stop by any one of these locations and drop off those medications that are gathering dust in your medicine cabinet. By properly disposing of them, you’ll be helping to make your home and community healthier.
If you would like more information about safe medication use, visit http://consumermedsafety.org/.