Safe prescriptions
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Safe prescriptions

The National Institutes of Health reports a disturbing shift in drug usage in the U.S. that is a sign of the times: In the 1960s, more than 80% of patients being treated for opioid addiction had first become hooked on heroin. Since the turn of the century, though, nearly 80% of opioid users started with prescription pain relievers. Those came from three main sources: prescriptions for themselves, family members or friends.

That shift — and the fact that 130 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day — clearly emphasizes the need to secure opioid prescriptions and take precautions when prescribed opioid pain relievers. The following can serve as a safety checklist for opioid prescriptions.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that more than 90% of patients who are prescribed opioids end up with unused pills, so it’s important to know that keeping unused, even expired, medications around the house is a risk. Consider how much less work it is to take leftover opioids out of a medicine cabinet than to locate someone who will sell you heroin. That’s partly why the explosion in opioid prescriptions, beginning in the 1990s, has led to the public health crisis the United States now finds itself fighting.

Disposing of unused medication at a drug drop-box location is the best method to keep opioids from building up in your home. (Many medications cannot be safely thrown in the trash or flushed down a toilet.) Here are locations across Ohio that safely collect unused medication:

Another good option is to participate in a take-back day, such as those organized by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or the Drug Enforcement Administration. On these days, law enforcement agencies host collection bins.