How To Store & Throw Out Prescriptions

AdCare RX

How To Store & Throw Out Prescriptions

Editorial By: Georganna Koppermann, AdCare VP of Marketing & Community Services

Prescription pain medication has played a large role in the current opioid overdose crisis. Despite the fact that Americans reported about the same amounts of pain, the sale of prescription opioids nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014. During the same period of time, prescription opioid overdose deaths increased at nearly the same rate.¹

To make matters worse, many individuals who become dependent on prescription opioids later turn to heroin, which is much cheaper. Four out of five new heroin users started out with misusing prescription opioids. Following the trajectory of prescription pain pills, the rate of heroin overdoses increased beginning in 2000. From 2000 to 2010, heroin overdoses increased around 6% each year; beginning in 2010, the rate of overdoses increased dramatically: 37% each year from 2010 to 2013.²

Both the state and federal governments, as well as prominent medical institutions, are taking action to curb the availability of prescription opioids and turn the tide of the drug crisis. And while these measures are sorely needed, the most immediate source of relief does not come from a large institution: it comes from you.

Individuals such as yourself can start alleviating the drug crisis right now, and the relief may come from an unexpected source: your medicine cabinet.

Research has shown that most people who misuse prescriptions are given them by friends and family, free of cost. In fact, individuals who are at the highest risk of overdosing on prescription opioids are more likely to get them free (or at a cost) from friends and family (49%) than from a drug dealer (15%)³

How To Store & Throw Out Prescriptions Graph

The best way to can protect your family, loved ones, and community is to clean out your medicine cabinet. Get rid of any medication you no longer use or that has expired, but make sure to do it properly:

Proper storage and monitoring of your medicine goes a long way in protecting your family members or loved ones from misusing medication:


Consider locking up prescription opiates.
Medicines like oxycodone (OxyCotin® and Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), hydromorphone (Dilaudid®) and alprazolam (Xanax®) all contain controlled substances that can be addictive. To prevent your loved ones from being exposed the potentially dangerous drugs, and to prevent theft, consider storing your prescriptions in a locked drawer or cabinet only you can access.


Take inventory of your meds.
Count how many pills you have per prescription and write it down. This will not only help you spot potential misuse if too many pills disappear within a short period of time, but it will also help you keep track of important prescriptions and weed out expired medication.

Keep track of refills.
Knowing how often a prescription has been refilled can also help you spot the early signs of misuse. If a prescription is being filled more regularly than expected, or is being refilled after it is no longer medically necessary, someone with access to your medication may be using it inappropriately.

Your action can help change the tide of the drug crisis. Protect your loved ones and your community: Stop, Drop, or Lock Your Meds!

If you know someone who is currently struggling with a substance dependency, there is help. Visit our website or call 1-800-ALCOHOL for information on treatment options.

Georgie Koppermann_700sq
Georganna Koppermann is the Vice President of Community Services at Adcare Hospital.  She can be reached at