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How to Secure Your Prescription Drugs to Prevent Misuse

How to Secure Your Prescription Drugs to Prevent Misuse

Secure prescriptions currently in use and properly dispose of those no longer needed

The misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is a significant, growing and deadly societal problem. In a 2012 report the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted that prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the country and that in 2007, there was one unintentional drug overdose death every 19 minutes. All prescription drugs can be dangerous when misused, and many have high addiction and abuse potential. It is important for those who use prescription products like clonazepam under a doctor’s care to recognize the problem and to take steps to avoid unintentionally contributing to it.

Commonly Abused Prescriptions

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that the most commonly abused prescription drugs are depressants, stimulants and opioids. Depressants are drugs that depress the central nervous system (CNS). Drugs in this class include muscle relaxants and those prescribed for insomnia or anxiety. Stimulants include drugs prescribed to treat narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Most prescription painkillers are opioids. The CDC notes that since 2003, there have been more overdose deaths caused by prescription painkillers than by heroin and cocaine combined. They also note that for every painkiller overdose death, there are 35 emergency room visits and 161 people reporting drug abuse or dependence.

It is not uncommon for people who first begin abusing drugs to start with prescription products because there is a perception that they are safer than street drugs. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that in 2012, about 7,900 people a day began abusing drugs. The most common first drug used was marijuana and the second-most common category was prescription products.

People who abuse prescription drugs like clonazepam can be very creative in acquiring them. Individuals in search of drugs may doctor shop by going from one physician to another. They may also use poorly regulated online pharmacies. Often, however, drugs are taken from family members or friends. The NSDUH found that of those who used pain relievers non-medically in the year preceding the survey, 54% got the drug they used most recently for free from a friend or relative. The survey did not distinguish between occasions when prescription drugs were given freely (which is illegal) and occasions when they were taken without the friend or family member’s knowledge.

Because drugs are so widely prescribed, it is very common for households to contain either those that are currently being used to treat a medical condition or those that remain from a previous prescription following surgery or another medical procedure. It is important, therefore, to both secure those currently in use and to properly dispose of those no longer needed. It is also wise to monitor amounts so that if pills disappear, it is easily determined.

Properly Securing Prescription Drugs

The most secure way to protect prescription drugs is by using a lockable safe. Manufacturers have produced some designed especially for the purpose, which fit inside a standard medicine chest. Most are push-button locks which open easily with a designated code. Lockable drawers or cabinets are also good choices. People without lockable options may choose to place their prescriptions in an unlabeled or mislabeled box and to put the box in an out-of-the way place like the back of a closet.

Leaving prescriptions in a visible and easily accessible spot can create temptation not just for friends and family members but for strangers who have access to the home. A 2013 ABC news article reports that thieves posing as home buyers often steal prescription drugs during open houses. Realtors recommend treating prescriptions like other valuables, and locking them away or removing them from the home during an open house.

Properly Disposing of Prescription Drugs

There are a variety of ways to safely dispose of old prescriptions that are no longer in use. A publication by the Connecticut Prevention Network recommends the following:

  • Keep medications in their original containers, but remove labels or cover private information with duct tape or permanent marker.
  • Make the drugs harder and less appealing to use. Mix them with hot water to dissolve them and then add an undesirable substance like used coffee grounds or kitty litter.
  • Place the medicine bottle inside another container, like an empty margarine tub. Tape it shut.
  • Dispose of it with regular household garbage.

It is not wise to flush medications down the toilet or sink. This has a negative effect on water quality and can negatively affect both wildlife and humans.

National, state, and local governments are all addressing the problem of prescription drug abuse.

The U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency sponsors national prescription drug take-back days. Some localities have permanent collection boxes in designated drop-off locations. These are often located in police departments or sheriffs’ offices. Another disposal option is to take unused medications to a local pharmacy.

Let Us Help You

If you or someone you love has become addicted to prescription drugs, we can help you find treatment. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day, so there’s never a wrong time to call and talk to someone about your options. We can even check your insurance coverage if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Let us help you begin the journey.