Quick tips for keeping unused medicine away from children and teens

Some things in your medicine cabinet are more dangerous than others. When it comes to prescription drugs, opioid pain medicines can be addictive and even deadly. Do you have unused prescription opioids in your home? Keeping unused prescription opioids is risky and can result in overdose and death in children, teens, and even pets.

More than 100 Americans die every day from overdoses involving opioids, and millions are addicted to opioids. The Remove the Risk campaign from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides easy-to-follow steps that any adult can take to immediately remove unused prescription opioids from their homes and help save lives.

What is a prescription opioid?

Prescription opioids are powerful pain-reducing medicines; they include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and others. Doctors prescribe opioids after surgeries and for injuries; however, these medicines can have serious risks if they are accidentally or intentionally misused.

Why is opioid disposal important for you and your family?

Many people who misuse prescription opioids say that they got them from a friend or relative. Your friends or casual visitors may seek opioids and find your unused medicines in your cabinets or drawers. Curious kids and teens may explore medicines in your home and accidentally or intentionally take them. Research shows that even child-resistant containers cannot prevent a child from taking medicines not meant for them.

Prevent potential misuse by removing unused opioids from your home, especially if children or teens live with or visit you.

What can you do right now?

You can protect your family and be part of the solution to the opioid crisis. Go through your medicine cabinets and drawers – anywhere you keep unused opioid pills, patches, or syrups. Dispose of them safely by visiting www.FDA.gov/DrugDisposal to find answers to these questions:

1. Is a medicine take-back option readily available? Medicine take-back options are the preferred way to dispose of most types of unneeded medicines safely, including opioids. Authorized locations may be in retail pharmacies, hospital or clinic pharmacies, and law enforcement facilities. Some authorized collection sites may also offer mail-back programs or “drop-boxes” to help people safely dispose of their unused medicines.

2. If not, is the medicine on the FDA “flush list”? The FDA flush list tells you which medicines you should flush when they are no longer needed. Medicines on this flush list may be especially harmful and, in some cases, fatal with just one dose if they are used by someone other than the person for whom they were prescribed.

3. Can you throw it away in household trash? If no medicine take-back option is available, and the medication is not on the FDA flush list, you can:

* Mix medicines with an unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds;

* Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;

* Throw away the container in your trash at home; and

* Remove all personal information on the prescription label of empty medicine bottles or medicine packaging, then trash or recycle the empty bottle or packaging.

To find out more about these disposal methods and which one is right for you, visit www.FDA.gov/DrugDisposal.

Tips to keep your family safe.

1: Don’t share your opioid prescription with others.

2: Store opioids out of sight and out of reach of kids and teens in your home.

3: Dispose of unused opioids safely when there is no longer a medical need for them.

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