OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — The holidays are a perfect time to think about prescription drug safety.
"It’s really important to make sure our medications are locked up and stored away safely," said Terrence Spain, prevention program manager for the Oklahoma Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Before family and friends come into your home to celebrate, do everything you can to make sure people can't get their hands on your medications.
"Half of individuals in our state who misuse opioids often get them from a friend or family member, either by means of just asking or taking without any type of notice or anything," said Spain.
If the medicine is one you're currently taking, you can store it in a lock box. Don't flush unused pills down the toilet or toss them in the trash.
"Even if the medication is just placed in the trash can, it can still be taken out and used," Spain said. "Whereas if it’s disposed of properly, there’s no way it can be used illegally."
To get rid of your prescription drugs safety, you can visit one of many free drop boxes located across the state. All you have to do is put in your medication - no questions asked. You can find a location near you here or here.
"It’s just an easier, more convenient way for people to dispose of medications," said Phong Hoang, pharmacist manager and co-owner of Creative Care Pharmacy in Edmond.
The pharmacy has a drop box anyone in the community can use. They also offer free disposal bags to patients.
"For this holiday season, if you got a lot of people passing through the house – pets, kids – anytime there’s an opportunity, someone may take that chance to abuse that medication," Hoang said. "That could be fatal or they could end up in the hospital."
Getting rid of unused medications is a way you can help stop the opioid epidemic and prevent a holiday tragedy. In Oklahoma, overdose deaths from prescription opioids still outnumber heroin and fentanyl deaths.