Practicing Safe Medication Habits Promotes Personal and Community Health
April 29, 2022
By: Kevin Crabtree, RPH, Pharmacy Director at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital
Medications are often an important part of the healing process and can be essential in treating ongoing conditions. Most of us have taken medication at some point to help us get better or manage an illness. But if used incorrectly or disposed of improperly, medications can be harmful to your health or the health of others.
Establishing Safe Medication Habits
Medication misuse poses a serious health risk to you and your community. According to findings from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 51 percent of people who misused pain relievers in the past year obtained them from a friend or relative. The good news is that you can easily practice medication safety by adopting these healthy habits:
- Take medications as directed and keep a record of what you’re taking. Carefully follow the instructions, and take your medications only as prescribed by your provider and for the intended purpose.
- Always keep a current list of the medications you are taking, including ones you only take on occasion. Include the medication name, dose, how often you take it, the method for taking it (by mouth, injection, etc.) and the reason for taking it.
- Don’t forget to include over-the-counter drugs, herbals, vitamins and dietary supplements.
- Include any allergies, the names and phone numbers of your providers and your preferred pharmacy on this list.
- Share your list with close family members, and keep a copy in your wallet.
- Don’t hesitate to ask your provider or pharmacist if you have questions about side effects or drug interactions with your medications.
- Do not share your medications with others. This is one situation where sharing is not caring. Medicines can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription or if not used for the right reasons.
- Properly store your medications. Always relock the cap on medicine bottles, and keep your medicines in a safe and locked location out of the reach of children. Approximately 50,000 children younger than 6 years old end up in the ER each year after accessing medications they should not have access to. It’s also a good idea to keep your medications out of sight from friends and visitors to your home. A good deal of the pain medication misuse that happens is when those medications are obtained from a friend or relative.
- Safely dispose of unused or expired medications. It may seem convenient, but don’t throw your medications in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Discarded medications can be easily retrieved and abused or illegally sold, and medicines flushed down the toilet can contaminate your water supply. Safe and responsible disposal of your unused and expired medications can help prevent accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse, and promotes a healthy environment for your family and neighbors.
Find a Medication Drop Box or Take-Back Program Near You
Medication drop boxes are an easy, free and anonymous way to safely dispose of your unused and expired medications. You can find them in the following locations in our community:
- Walgreen's Pharmacy - 600 US-27, Somerset, KY 42501
- Pulaski County Sheriff's Office - 100 N Main, Somerset, KY 42501
- 911 Center - 145 N Highway 27, Somerset, KY 42501
- Somerset Police Department - 306 E. Mt. Vernon St, Somerset, KY 42501
Just stop by any one of these locations that are available year-round and drop off those expired or unused medications that are taking up space in your medicine cabinet. By properly disposing of them, you’ll be helping to make your home and community healthier.
If you would like more information about safe medication use, visit http://consumermedsafety.org/.