More than 1,000 Kentuckians die from prescription drug overdoses each year. Providers can play a critical role in addressing this statewide public health epidemic by educating patients on the safe use, storage and disposal of their prescription medicines.
Patients should commit to following these three steps if and when prescribed any medications for pain management:
Opioids can be dangerous if taken improperly. Before you begin any regimen for pain management, speak with your provider about the potential side effects and risks associated with opioid use.
- Only take medicines as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take a dosage that is lower or higher than what your provider recommends.
- Opioids can lead to undesirable side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, impaired driving and mental confusion. Discuss potential side effects with your doctor, and share any side effects that you are experiencing.
- Opioids can be dangerous when mixed with other drugs. Notify your doctor of any other medicines you are currently taking.
- Don’t stop taking opioids on your own. Discuss any changes to your treatment regimen with your provider.
- Mixing opioids with alcohol or illegal drugs can have deadly consequences.
- Never share medications with others.
Prescription drug abuse often starts at home in the medicine cabinet.
- Secure your medications in a secure, locked location where children, teenagers, strangers amd pets cannot access them.
- Be mindful of how much medicine you are taking and when so you will notice if any goes missing.
- Store medications in their original containers or packaging. Labels provide important information about proper dosage and potential side effects.
- Don’t store medications in a room where humidity and temperature are constantly changing.
- Don’t take prescription medicines in front of children who often mimic adults.
Kentuckians can dispose of their expired or unwanted medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, at one of the state’s many prescription drop boxes. There are now 190 locations in 116 counties with sites being added daily. Visit the Office of Drug Control Policy website to search for a drop box near you.
- CDC Checklist: Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
- Overview: KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting)
- CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain – United States, 2016
- American Medical Association: Difficult Conversations on Opioid Management
- CDC: Prescription Opioid Overdose Data