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How to Properly Store Opioids

Opioids have long been prescribed by physicians as an effective treatment for pain. Prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury, or for health conditions such as cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While opioids definitely serve a purpose they are not meant to be used long term and can cause dependence if used improperly. Here are some statistics to consider when it comes to the opioid crisis.

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.

  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.

  • An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.

  • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.

Opioids can help if you have severe short-term (acute) pain and other issues but if your pain is treated and you still have medication left it’s important to understand what you should do with your unused medication so it doesn’t get in the wrong hands. Here are some helpful tips to consider, according to Family Doctor.

How do I safely store opioids?

All opioids should be stored in their original packaging.

  • Don’t store them in places medicines are usually kept, such as in a bathroom or kitchen cabinet. Instead, place them in a locked cabinet, lockbox, or other location where people can’t easily access them.

  • Carefully note when and how much medicine you take in order to keep track of how much is left.

How do I safely dispose of opioids?

Opioids should never be kept at home after your pain is gone. Having them at home may encourage opioid abuse by friends and family members.

  • Opioids—both pill and patch forms—often come with instructions for flushing unused medicine down the toilet. This can prevent unintentional use or illegal abuse. Even used patches contain enough medicine to be deadly. To dispose of a pain patch, fold it in half so the sticky sides are together, then flush it right away.

What if my community doesn’t allow flushing unused pills?

If your community warns against flushing unused medicines down the toilet, follow these steps:

  • Remove personal information from the prescription label and keep the medicine in its original container.

  • Add water to solid pills. Also add a nontoxic substance, such as coffee grounds, dirt, or kitty litter to the container. This will keep others from finding and using opioids.

  • Seal the container with duct tape and place it inside a second, unmarked container.

  • Then place in the trash.

The team at ANA Pain Management is here to help answer any questions you may have when it comes to pain management and controlling your symptoms. Call or visit us online today to learn more.


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