Tips to prevent prescription drug abuse at home

(BPT) – More than 6 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and much of the abuse begins at home. In fact, more than 70 percent of those who illegally use prescription pain relievers obtained them through friends or family, including raiding the home medicine cabinet.

However, a recent study from the University of Michigan found only 19 percent of parents are concerned about the misuse of narcotic pain medications in their own families, showing that many do not recognize the severity of the problem.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids (narcotic pain medications). When used along with other prescription medications such as benzodiazepines and muscle relaxers, they deliver a cocaine-like high. Study data shows that abuse accounts for 84 percent of patient-related prescription-drug fraud.

About half of all overdose deaths include opioids along with at least one other medication, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate. Narcotic pain killers can be essential in the treatment of a variety of serious medical conditions; unfortunately they also can ruin lives when used improperly. Properly storing and disposing of these and all other medications can help reduce the risk of abuse.

Tips to increase prescription-drug safety at home

By following some simple do’s and don’ts you can reduce the risk of drug fraud and abuse in your home.


Keep drugs out of reach. Be sure to store your medications in a locked area out of children’s reach. Ask your pharmacist if he or she can provide medication bottles with child-resistant caps.

Keep track of your treatments: Keep a list of the medications in your home, especially those prone to abuse. Periodically count the medications remaining in the container, and make sure that it’s the correct amount according to the prescribed dosage.

Dispose properly: If specific disposal instructions are provided on the label, follow them. Otherwise, remove the medication from its original container or vial, mix them with an undesirable substance such as used coffee grounds, kitty litter or saw dust, and place them in a sealable bag that can be thrown in the trash.


Make it easy: Don’t store narcotics or potentially addictive drugs in a medicine cabinet. If that is the only option, add a lock to the cabinet and hide the key.

Save for “next time”: Once your condition has been treated and your prescription regimen is complete, properly dispose of the drugs. Never keep extra medication for potential use in the future.

Share your medication: The drug and dosage were selected specifically for the person the medication was prescribed for and could lead to dangerous drug interactions and serious side effects if used by someone else.

By following these simple steps, you can help protect your family and friends against the nation’s costly problem of prescription-drug fraud and abuse.

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