Practicing safe opioid use is extremely important. Opioid pills and patches are commonly prescribed to those with severe pain and discomfort. Used properly, these drugs can provide the opportunity for a person to heal without intense discomfort.

However, there is a potential for addiction that can lead to greater health concerns. To avoid this, be conservative in using these drugs and, most importantly, stop using them as soon as your pain subsides.

An additional component to the safe opioid use is proper storage, management, and disposal of opioid pills and patches. Learning how to care for them can help protect not only you but your family as well.

When You Receive Opioids from Your Doctor

Recognize the risks with opioids. Because of how highly addictive these drugs are, it is very important for people to use them for as short of a period of time and only as needed.

According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, 21 to 29 percent of people who are prescribed opioids and opioid patches for chronic pain, misuse them. About 12 percent develop an opioid disorder.

Your first step, then, is to understand your prescription:

  • How many pills do you need to take at one time?
  • How often should you take them?
  • Should you just take them when you have discomfort?

Knowing this, you can plan to manage your medications easier. For example, once you get them home, be sure to store them according to the directions on the bottle. Generally speaking, most should not be stored around intense heat or cold temperatures. They should be kept in an area that is dry without a lot of humidity.

practicing safe opioid use

How to Keep Opioids Safe at Home

While you need to use them, keep these products protected to maintain safe opioid use. It may be easier to do this than you think:

1. Locked Containers Promote Safe Opioid Use

Start with storing them in a locked container if possible. Keep the key with you, the person who is using them. By locking them in a container, you minimize the risk that someone can accidentally access them, mistake them for another product, or steal them from you.

2. Keep the Original Containers

Store these drugs in their original container provided by your doctor or pharmacy. Do not distribute them over your medicine containers or multi-day pill holders. Rather, keep them in their original packaging that should include your name and information about how to take them.

3. Never Leave Them Near Children for Safe Opioid Use

Take every step possible to keep inaccessible to children of all ages. Store the locked box in your bedroom or office where kids do not look. You may also want to avoid talking about having these drugs on you as well. Even if your children would never take them, that doesn’t mean their friends or the neighbors they tell will be as respectful.

If you have kids in the home that may ask about the medications, explain to them what they are and why they are used. It’s important never to try to convince kids to take their own medications as “candy” since this can create the wrong message. Rather, be sure they understand the legal ramifications and the health risks of taking medications that don’t belong to them.

4. Never Share with Anyone

It is always important for you to use your medication if and when you need it. Never share it with anyone else to manage safe opioid use. As noted, don’t tell people what you are taking besides someone in your immediate family.

5. Talk to Your Doctor

Before taking your medication, make sure you understand how to handle and store it. This is important for pain patches that may require specific applications.

When You Are Done with Your Prescription

Some people don’t finish their full prescription. After recognizing the risks of exposure to opioids – even over a short period of time – you may elect to stop early. What do you do with leftover pills, then?

In most communities, you can take your medications to your local police department for proper disposal. Don’t leave them in your car or in your home unused. You can also take these medications to your local health department. In both cases, they will get rid of the medications for you in a safe method. They don’t ask questions about them, either.

Keep in mind you should dispose of all drugs in this manner. Never flush them down the toilet. Don’t throw them away in the trash pickup. Turn them into any “take back” resources available to you in your community.

pharmacist discussing safe opioid use to senior couple
Ask your pharmacist about proper and safe opioid use.

Your pharmacist can provide insight into other locations that may be available to you.

Proper Disposal of Unused Opioids Safeguards Your Family

Why rush to get rid of them? After all, you may not want to have to get another prescription if you need them later.

This is a common line of thinking. Some people store them in their medicine cabinet for years as a result. However, every time someone comes to your home and accesses that cabinet, there is a risk for not practicing safe opioid use. Mistakes can happen easily. Many times, those using these drugs make no indication of it either. You simply don’t know they are abusing them.

In addition to this, having these drugs around creates a risk of temptation. You may develop a minor backache and turn to them for relief. You may think you can keep them around for problems that arise later. Yet, it is this type of mentality that can lead to addiction.

To prevent these risks, simply dispose of the drugs from your home. By being aggressive about managing your opioid pills and patches, you safeguard your help while getting the most out of these medications. It doesn’t have to be a challenge to be safe and protective of your family and loved ones.

Who to Talk to About Safe Opioid Use

The pain management specialists at MidSouth Pain Treatment Center are well equipped to answer all of your questions regarding safe opioid use, management, and disposal.

If you’ve been suffering from chronic pain without relief, interventional pain management therapies might be the solution you’re looking for! Turn to the experts at MidSouth Pain Treatment Center. Their providers are trained to look at the root cause of your pain and provide treatment plans accordingly.

Find out how you can get relief from chronic pain. For more information contact us now at the MidSouth Pain Treatment Center or give us a call at (866) 739-2119. We are your “pain doctor near me.”