Recent research and statistics on drug use show that in the United States alone, 52 million people over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in their lifetime. The same statistics show that 6.1 million people have used drugs non-medically in the past month. And in 2010, enough prescription painkillers were prescribed to medicate every American adult every four hours for one month. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways we can stop medicine abuse and prevent it. Our rehab in Massachusetts shares some tips on how to prevent prescription drug abuse starting at home.
Tips for Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse at Home
The statistics alone are enough to make us stop and think about how we use drugs and the consequences of abusing or misusing drugs. It’s never too late to take precautions. You can still save others’ lives or your own. One of the first essential steps is knowing how to avoid becoming a part of those statistics.
Here are helpful tips on how to prevent prescription drug abuse in your home and protect yourself and your loved ones.
Spend Time With Your Loved Ones
This is a simple tip but also a very powerful one. Not only can creating and sustaining a loving relationship with your family and happy home help prevent substance abuse but being close to loved ones allows you to catch any red flags early on.
It’s also important to spend more time with people you trust. These can include your parents, your siblings, your good friends, or some close relatives. It’s also important to try and avoid spending time with people who abuse prescription drugs or engage in any other form of substance abuse, as they’re likely to encourage this behavior.
Keep Drugs Out of Reach
Home is where teenage drug abuse usually begins, so it’s important to make sure that your medications are stored securely. The best way to lock up medications is to put them in a lockable drawer or cabinet or an actual safe. You can also simply find a place where children and other people in the house cannot reach or access them. Overdose is also a major risk among children who have easy access to prescription drugs in their homes. You can purchase a lockbox for prescription drugs, and you can also request child-resistant caps when you visit your pharmacist.
Monitor Your Prescriptions
Things happen, and you can’t be everywhere at once, especially when it comes to your children. Another way to safeguard your home against prescription drug abuse is by monitoring your medications closely. This includes:
- Keeping track of how many pills are in your bottle
- Keeping track of your refills and those of others in your home
- Pay attention to whether you need sooner or more frequent refills than normal
- Monitor your teen’s medications, doses, and refills
Ask Your Doctor Plenty of Questions About Your Medication
Most people just accept a prescription, march to the nearest pharmacy, buy their meds, and put them in their mouths almost mindlessly. Doctors will tell you what drugs to buy, but it is up to you to find out more important information about the drugs you’ve been prescribed.
Whenever taking medication is brought up with your doctor, be sure to ask plenty of questions. What are the side effects? Are there any contraindications (a condition that may make it harmful to take this medication) I should be aware of? In case of overdose, how serious are the consequences of this particular drug I am about to take for a whole month?
You’d be surprised at how many people feel uncomfortable about taking a particular medication but do so anyway because they believe it’s necessary without asking questions. Don’t do that! This series of sample questions are extremely beneficial. Research. Find out more about your meds. You can never go wrong with awareness and knowledge.
Do Not Save Drugs for Later Use
A lot of us do this, but it boils down to whether or not the drugs you are saving for “next time” are highly addicting or not. There are drugs that you have to immediately dispose of (safely, of course) right after your condition has been treated and when your doctor tells you to do so. Keeping extra medication for future use is a subtle recipe for what could be a serious disaster.
Do Not Share Your Medications With Others
Many family members and friends have the habit of sharing their medications. They might think, “Oh, I’ve got just the thing! It worked wonders for me,” but it’s important to remember that medication is prescribed to the person according to certain factors. These doses and types of medications are chosen according to individual traits and are not meant for general use.
Therefore, we strongly discourage sharing your medications with others. Not only is it a third-degree felony, but it can also set someone up for an abusive cycle and even place them at risk for an overdose.
Properly Dispose of Your Medications
Improperly disposing of your medication – which includes throwing it in the trash – may leave it accessible to others in your home. It’s also not environmentally friendly. The best way to dispose of your unused or expired medications (both prescribed and over-the-counter) is to drop off the medicine at a drug take-back site, location, or program.
If you’re unable to find a drug take-back location or aren’t near one and the medicine is on the FDA flush list, you can flush it down the toilet. If it’s not on the flush list, then follow these instructions:
- Mix (do not crush them) with an unpalatable substance like dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds.
- Place the mixture in a container like a sealed plastic bag.
- Throw it away in your trash.
- Scratch out any personal information on your medicine bottles before throwing them away.
Remind Yourself and Others
Remind yourself and others in the household that drugs are there to help you with your medical needs and that these drugs are prescribed for particular purposes specific to a particular person. It’s never too late to share your knowledge about the consequences of drug abuse with your loved ones.
Help for Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drugs like opioids, benzodiazepines, and sedatives have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Long-term abuse can lead to severe addiction. This is an especially common and growing problem in the United States, particularly with opioids.
If you or someone you love is addicted to pills, you can get help. Our Massachusetts inpatient drug rehab offers prescription drug addiction treatment that could be the first step to a drug-free life.