How to Safely Use Prescription Medication

Prescription Take Back Program
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Source: Office of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr

ACQUISITION


What should I ask my doctor about a prescription?
It’s important to understand the opioid or other medication you’re being prescribed, how it can help you, and how to properly take it. Here are some questions to ask your doctor when he or she prescribes a medication:
•    Can I become dependent on this medication?
•    Can I become addicted to this medication?
•    What does the medication do?
•    Why are you suggesting this particular prescription?
•    How, when and for how long should I take it?
•    What are the side effects? Are they minor or major? Are they common?
•    Does the medication contain anything that may cause an allergic reaction?
•    Have long-term studies been done on this drug?
•    Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
•    Is this dosage specific for me, or is it a one-dose-fits-all dosage?
•    Can I start out at a lower dosage and adjust if needed?
•    Is there anything I should avoid eating or drinking while taking this medication?
•    What should I do if I miss a dose or take a dose incorrectly?
•    What are my options if I do not want to take a medication?
•    How should I store my medication and how long can I keep it? (See Safe Storage for additional information.)


Remember, there are effective medications available that are non-narcotic. Talk with your prescribing medical professional about whether you should consider alternatives available to you and your family.


SAFE STORAGE


How and where should I store prescription painkillers?
Do you store your prescription opioids and other medications in the medicine cabinet in your bathroom? You’re not alone – it’s a common practice, but storing your medications in an easily accessible place means they’re available for children, teens, or others to find and abuse.


Store them out of sight!


Keeping your prescription painkillers secure and out of sight can prevent them from falling into the hands of someone who wants to abuse them. It can also prevent someone in your house from accidentally taking the wrong medication. And when there are children and teens in the house, it’s best to keep them out of sight and out of reach.


Lock them up!


Storing your prescription painkillers and other medications in a lockbox, safe, or locked medicine cabinet is one of the most effective ways to prevent abuse or accidental use. Many companies offer lockable medication storage options.


Safely dispose of them!


Unused medications are a disaster waiting to be found. That’s why it’s vital to safely dispose of unneeded and expired prescriptions. There are safe Drug Take Back disposal sites available throughout the state of Georgia. See Drug Take Back for an interactive tool to find a disposal location near you.


APPROPRIATE USE


Always follow safe medication use tips:
•    Do not share your opioids or other medications with anyone.
•    Do not take someone else’s prescription medication.
•    Store your prescription opioids and other medications securely.
•    Safely dispose of expired, unused, or unwanted prescription medications.


When picking up a prescription…
•    Read and examine the label. Your pharmacist put all that information on there for a reason.
•    Count the number of pills in the bottle and be sure it matches the amount indicated on the label.
•    If the label describes what the pills should look like, make sure what’s in the bottle matches. If not, tell your pharmacist.
•    When you pick up a refill, examine the pills to be sure they look the same as the last batch.
•    If you have questions about the ingredients, warnings, directions, or anything else having to do with your prescription, ask the pharmacist while you’re there.


When taking medication at home…
•    Take your medications only as long as they’re needed, and never more than directed by your prescribing medical professional.
•    Always double check the label to be sure you’re taking the correct pill.
•    Do not crush pills unless you have been instructed to do so by your doctor or pharmacist.


If something goes wrong…
•    If you or someone you know has an adverse reaction to a new prescription, call your doctor immediately.
•    If you miss a dose, call your doctor for instructions.
•    If you take too large of a dose or accidentally take the wrong medication, call 911 or the poison control center immediately at 800-222-1222.


For more information, log on to the Office of Georgia Attorney General Dose of Reality Web Portal
 

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