Prescription medications stolen from friends and family are a major source of abused medication and are often the initial way middle and high schoolers first get access. To find your prescriptions, all it usually takes is a quick trip into the bathroom by friends, family, or workers struggling with addiction. Don’t be the source for their prescription abuse and drug diversion! Follow these 2 easy ways to prevent medication diversion and cut down on prescription medication abuse.
#1: Clean out your medicine cabinets. Get rid of your old medication to prevent drug diversion.
People often save medicine “in case they need it again”… but if you do need it, your doctor can re-prescribe the medication.
Don’t risk your medication being stolen. Disposing of extras when you are done is an easy way you can help prevent prescription medication abuse.
There are different ways to dispose of medication:
- Medication take-back days: Drive by and put your unused medication in the collection kit. No questions asked! These are organized by the town and are usually announced in local flyers, billboards, and newspapers.
- Many police stations have anonymous medication drop off boxes. Dump all unused medication into their receptacle. Call the non-emergency number of your local police station to ask if they have this.
- If you are throwing medication in the trash, mix it with cat litter or coffee grounds. Visit the FDA for additional tips on safe disposal of your extra medication.
Side note on antibiotics:
Although antibiotics are not medications that are abused, it’s a common medication that people hoard. Someone recently told me they thought they had a sinus infection and took 2 days of an antibiotic that was found in their medicine cabinet. They had no idea what the name of the antibiotic was and couldn’t remember why it was initially prescribed.
Antibiotics are not universally effective against all bacteria and are prescribed to target the most likely bacteria for your particular infection. Not taking a complete course of antibiotics serves to increase the chance your bacteria will become resistant to being killed by that antibiotic. This is bad news for you AND the world, leading to people dying from previously treatable conditions.
Moral of the story? Finish your antibiotics if you are given them and don’t ever start a course on your own with random antibiotics you have left over!
#2: Lock up your medication to prevent prescription medication abuse and drug diversion
Get a medication box to lock up your prescriptions. This will keep it safe from children and function as a deterrent to diversion.
I have yet to discover the perfect lockbox (easy to use and difficult to break into), but an imperfect box that gets used is better than no box at all!
- If you are childproofing, I find the plastic box with a combo lock works great. This way I don’t have to search for a key to open it. (I may have gone overboard with buying these medication boxes. I actually have 8! In addition to medication, I have taken to locking things like sharpies, nail polish, and scissors after one too many self-done haircuts, spilled nail polish, and sharpie wall designs).
- If you are in a situation where your medication will be exposed to someone who struggles with addiction I recommend getting a more sturdy box that can’t be smashed. A plastic box just isn’t going to cut it for prevention of drug diversion.
- When traveling, I like the locking bag because it feels sturdy and secure and is big enough to fit a few bottles without being bulky.
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Together we can help prevent medication diversion and cut down on prescription abuse
We can all do our part to prevent drug diversion and prescription medication abuse by getting rid of leftover medications and locking up the current ones.
For more on the topic of preventing addiction read this article.
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2 thoughts on “We Can Help Prevent Prescription Medication Abuse and Drug Diversion”
Yes to all of these point! Great post!
Thank you Dr. Nadia!
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