Make drug safety a habit

Make drug safety a habit

October 3, 2018

We’ve all been sick  in our lives and  we’ve probably all been prescribed  or used over the counter medication .  If we don't use all our medications, there is a process we can follow to safely get rid of them.

Drug safety is also about knowing how to take your medication.

For all the medications you take:

  • See if your medication matches the descriptions you were given.
  • Make sure you know how and when to use your medication correctly.
  • Read all labels and follow directions.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are having problems with the medication you’re taking.
  • Make sure all your doctors know about all the medication you take.

Remember that your doctor prescribed your medication for you based on your health and other factors. A drug that is safe for you can hurt others, especially children. So, don’t share prescription medication with anyone else and make sure that they are secured if you have children or guests in your home.

And, if you have any prescription drugs leftover, make sure you get rid of them—either through a drug take back program or proper disposal at home.

The DEA’s next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is on October 27, 2018. Don’t want to wait until then? No worries. Use this online tool to find a Controlled Substance Public Disposal Location near you. 

You can also check with your prescription drug plan. Those enrolled in HealthSelectSM of Texas and Consumer Directed HealthSelectSM can call the number on their prescription drug plan (PDP) card and ask that disposal pouches be mailed to them. OptumRx, the company that manages HealthSelect's PDP, sends pouches at no cost to participants. Just throw those unused drugs into the pouch and throw it away.
Alternately, follow these steps to throw away your medication at home:

  1. Take the medications out of their containers and mix them with something smelly or dirty, like used coffee grounds, dirt or even cat litter. This makes the drugs less appealing and can hide them from someone who might go through the trash looking for drugs.
  2. Put the mix in something you can close like a resealable storage bag to keep the drug from leaking or spilling out.
  3. Throw the container in the garbage.
  4. Scratch out all your information on the medicine packaging or shred the labels when you’re ready to recycle or dispose of the container to protect your identity and privacy.

If you have questions about your medication, always ask your health care provider or pharmacist.

For more information on these and other tips, go to the FDA’s Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know webpage. And, just for fun, take this interactive quiz from the DEA. The website, Get Smart About Drugs, is worth a look, too.