Safeguard Your Medications New York Health Works

Safeguarding Your Medications

With the holiday season approaching, and subsequently guests coming and going, it’s important to safeguard your medications so they don’t fall into the wrong hands — that is, any hands but yours.

Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem in the United States. A 2016 National Study on Drug Use and Health reported that almost 1 in 10 Americans struggle with some level of substance abuse, including prescription drug addiction. And that number is growing. While we don’t like to think that this could be an issue for people visiting our homes, a household medication cabinet is an easily accessible  source of prescription medications for people who make be seeking them. Learning how to safeguard your medications can help you keep your home safe for the holidays and prevent any potential issues with misuse of medication.

The most commonly abused medications are opioids (prescription pain relievers), benzodiazepines (sedatives and anti-anxiety medications) and stimulants (ADHD medications). While all medications should be handled using precautionary measures, it’s important that these medications especially are handled with care.

Here are five ways you can safeguard your medicine cabinet this season:


1. Store medications in a locked cabinet.

While the medicine cabinet in your bathroom might seem like the obvious choice for storing medicine, this is the most likely place that someone would look for medicine and also very easily accessible. Consider putting your medications under lock and key, in a place only you know about.


2. Store your medications out of sight.

Don’t leave your medication in a highly visible place, such as on the table or on your nightstand. This makes your medicine much more susceptible to diversion.


3. Don’t leave in easily accessible locations.

Coat pockets, purses and knapsacks are all places where it is easy to store, and thus easy to find, medication. If you’re not putting your medication under lock and key, consider putting it in a place only you know about, out of eyesight and reach of other parties.


4. Check your medication regularly.

When you take your medication, take a look at how much of your prescription you have left. Is it less than you thought it was? If you have prescriptions you take sparingly, keep an eye on them to see if your supply is dwindling faster than you are taking your medication, as this can be a sign of diversion.


5. Dispose of old, unused or unwanted medication.

The DEA hosts regular Take Back Days around the country to safely dispose of old medications, or you can dispose of medication in the privacy of your own home using these simple steps:

  • • Pour medication into a sealable plastic bag. Dissolve solid medications, such as pills, liquid capsules, etc. by adding water.
  • • Once dissolved, add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds or another mixing material to the plastic bag. This will make sure that the solution is less appealing to pets, children and others.
  • • Seal the plastic bag to make sure it doesn’t leak, then put it in the trash.
  • • Remove and destroy all identifying personal information (for example, the prescription label) from the medication containers before recycling them or throwing them away.

Your health is important, as is the health of your family and friends. Have a great holiday season by taking the steps necessary to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy.