When used as directed, medications help you heal from illnesses and injury. But they can be dangerous if mixed up, misused, or used by others. Combining medications with alcohol or other drugs can cause serious harm. Being safe with medications means using them as directed, not sharing with others, and being open with your health care providers about medications and alcohol and drug use.
- TELL your doctor about ALL medicines you take, including over-the-counter meds and supplements.
- ASK your doctor or pharmacist about potential dangers of using alcohol, marijuana, other drugs, and over-the-counter medications while taking your medications.
- ONLY take medications prescribed to you in the doses prescribed, and NEVER share your prescriptions.
- PROPERLY DISPOSE of all unused and expired medications in community drop-boxes at one of these locations.
- ASK a family member, doctor or pharmacist to help you look through all your medications to sort out current and expired meds, and what might cause bad effects if mixed with others.
Why practice safe use?
Medications are helpful when appropriately used in partnership with a health care provider, but can be harmful when used other than as prescribed. Painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, and Codeine can cause opioid dependence. Overuse of these medications can leave people vulnerable to using illegal substances, such as heroin. Misuse can make it hard to stop using these medicines even when they are no longer medically needed.
In 2011, 200 NH residents died from misuse of medications – more than from car accidents. The rise in prescription drug misuse has been linked to:
- Accessibility of medications either through prescriptions or theft.
- Misperception that prescribed medication is less risky than illegal drugs.
- A lack of knowledge about how potent and deadly prescriptions, especially pain medications, can be.