These numbers underscore not only the problem of prescription drug abuse, but also the critical importance of proper handling and storage of prescription medication.
Studies have shown that many people aren’t taking medicines as prescribed and directed by their doctors, or as indicated on medication labels. Research by the National Community Pharmacists Association showed that, in 2006, almost 75% of adults did not take their prescription medicines as directed, whether by not filling a new prescription, taking less than the prescribed dose or discontinuing the medicine without notifying their doctor.
It is important to only take a medicine as directed and to follow the label for correct dosage.
If medicines were taken as directed, we would have not only fewer instances of drug abuse and diversion, but also better health outcomes and lower health care costs, including the following:
- Fewer Hospitalizations: Proper adherence is directly associated with decreased hospitalizations, nursing home admissions and physician visits.
- Disease Prevention: Patients who do not take their medications as directed are more likely to develop additional conditions.
- Less Adverse Events: Providing counseling to patients to clarify their medication regimen following hospital discharge can dramatically reduce the likelihood of adverse drug events.
Many people use their bathroom medicine cabinet as the preferred storage spot for their medications. It may even be yours. But there may be a risk of exposing your medicine to heat and moisture, which could affect its ingredients. Pay close attention to the directions for storage on the prescription insert provided by your pharmacist and on the medication label, and, when in doubt, store your medicine in a cool, dry place.
It is also important to store medications securely to prevent accidental ingestion or misuse. When medicines are misused or fall into the wrong hands, it can be the result of medications not being properly stored. Keep your medicines away from the reach of children, teenagers and pets to avoid accidental ingestion, as well as to prevent use of these medicines by anyone other than the person for whom they were prescribed.
When taking prescription medication, always follow the recommended dosage instructions and finish the medication unless otherwise directed by a physician. For OTC medication, always follow the directions shown on the product Drug Facts label. When medications are taken correctly, there is less medicine lying around in our homes to become a potential threat.
Accidental poison & ingestion
Drug abuse and drug diversion aren’t the only ways prescription medication falls into the wrong hands. As the number of adults using prescription medications has increased, so has the number of children being accidentally poisoned by medications. This is most commonly the result of medications not being properly stored or kept away from youngsters who are actively exploring their new environments.
In 2011, The Journal of Pediatrics found that 55 percent of child-related calls to poison centers from emergency departments were a result of a child getting into prescription medications.