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Pain Medication Safety

SAFE Use, Storage, and Disposal of Prescription Opioid Medicines from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is a serious public health issue, widely referred to as an “epidemic” by public policymakers.  Opioids are prescribed for short-term pain reduction, but can be extremely dangerous if used improperly.

Safe Use of Your Prescription:
Please be aware that improper use of prescription pain medication is a leading cause of accidental death.  Please keep the below suggestions in mind to ensure the proper use of your prescription.

  • Combining opioids with alcohol or other drugs increases the risk of death
  • Take medications only as prescribed.
  • Never take more than instructed
  • Never take somebody else’s medicine
  • Never give or sell your medicine to someone else
  • Combining opioids with medicines used to calm anxiety can result in overdose
  • Using opioids for something other than pain (anxiety, sleep, fear of pain, to feel good) can create a harmful dependence/addiction

Storing Your Prescription Safely:
Unused medicines in your home risk being used inappropriately.

Pain relievers are a leading cause of serious poisoning of children and pets when they are left where others can get them
Hide or lock up opioid medications to avoid access by family, friends, or houseguests
Keep prescription medications in their original packaging so it is clear for whom the medications were prescribed and to save the directions for appropriate use

Safe Disposal:
Place all unused prescription opioids in the proper disposal unit at your local pharmacy or police station.  There are dozens in Greater Cincinnati and the surrounding areas.
To search for a registered disposal site convenient for you, please click here.

In the rare case no medicine take-back facilities are available within your area, you can flush your unused medication down the toilet or follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the household trash:

  • Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter;
  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and
  • Throw the container in your household trash.
  • Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, please be sure to scratch out all of the information on the label to make it unreadable.