1 in 4 people who take a prescription opioid pain medication may become dependent or addicted.

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DEPENDENCE ON PRESCRIPTION OPIOIDS CAN HAPPEN AFTER JUST FIVE DAYS.

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75% of people dependent on opioids started with doctor prescribed pain pills.

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80% OF HEROIN USERS STARTED WITH A PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLER

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Practice Safe Medication Use

Take medicines ONLY as prescribed.


  • Keep a current list of your medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and dietary/herbal supplements. Bring your up-to-date medicine list to all of your medical and pharmacy visits.
  • Keep opioids and all other medicines in a safe place, out of the reach of children. Keep your medicines in a secure, preferably locked place.
  • Never give away or share your medicines with others.
  • Never mix pain medicines with alcohol, sleeping pills, or any illicit substance.
  • Review your medicines every six months and properly dispose of all expired, unused or unwanted medicines as soon as possible.
  • Find the disposal location in your area.
  • Prevent an Overdose
  • Carry Naloxone

Tips for safe medication use

  • Take your medications as prescribed and only if needed, and never more than directed by your medical provider.
  • Don’t share your prescription pain medicine or other medications with anyone.
  • Don’t take anyone else’s prescription medication.
  • Keep track of your medication and count the number of pills in the bottle.
  • Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about the ingredients, warnings, directions, interaction with other medication or anything else having to do with your prescription.
  • Never crush pills unless you have been instructed to do so by your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Lock your prescription painkiller and other medications up securely.
  • Safely dispose of expired, unused or unwanted prescription medications.
  • If you take too large of a dose or accidentally take the wrong medication, call the poison control center immediately at 800-222-1222.

Storage and disposal tips

  • Keep prescription painkillers in their original labeled containers out of sight and out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet or on a high shelf.
  • Keep track of how many pills are left.
  • Having prescription painkillers in your home increases the risk that another person in your household might find them and misuse them, or take them accidentally.
  • Get rid of painkillers that you are no longer using safely. NEVER dispose by flushing down the toilet because it can harm the drinking water supply.

Where can I dispose of my medications?

Disposal at home

  • Before disposing of any pills, mark out any personal information on the bottle.
  • Add water to pills to dissolve them.
  • Mix pills or liquid drugs with something that you can’t eat, like cat litter or dirt.
  • Close the lid and secure with duct or packing tape.
  • Place the bottle inside a non-see-through container like a coffee can or detergent bottle.
  • Tape that container closed.
  • Hide the container in the trash. Do not put in the recycle bin.