Safely managing medications helps make our community healthier

By: Sara Johnson-Higgs, Pharmacy Director at SageWest Health Care

Most of us have taken medicine to help heal from illness or injury at some point in our lives. Medications are often an important part of the healing process and can be essential in treating ongoing conditions, but they can also be harmful to your health or the health of others if not managed appropriately.

Responsibly Handling Medications

While medications can provide many benefits, their misuse can pose a serious health risk to you and your community. According to findings from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 51 percent of people who misused pain relievers in the past year obtained them from a friend or relative. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to get into the habit of practicing medication safety:

  • Take medications as directed. Carefully follow the instructions, and take your medications only as prescribed by your provider and for the intended purpose.
    • Always keep a current list of the medications you are taking, including ones you only take on occasion. Include the medication name, dose, how often you take it, the method for taking it (by mouth, injection, etc.) and the reason for taking it.
    • In addition to your prescribed medications, don’t forget to include over-the-counter drugs, herbals, vitamins, and dietary supplements. Share your list with close family members and keep a copy in your wallet.
    • Include any allergies, the names and phone numbers of your providers and your preferred pharmacy on this list.
    • Don’t hesitate to ask your provider or pharmacist if you have questions about side effects or drug interactions with your medications.
  • Do not share your medications with others. While this gesture may be well-intended, medicines can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription or if not used for the right reasons.
  • Ensure proper storage. Always relock the cap on medicine bottles and keep your medicines in a safe and locked location out of the reach of children and out of sight from friends and visitors. Each year, approximately 50,000 children younger than 6 years old end up in the Emergency Room after accessing medications when caregivers aren’t present, and many people who misuse pain medications obtain them from a friend or relative.
  • Safely dispose of unused or expired medications. Don’t throw your medications in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Discarded medications can be easily retrieved and abused or illegally sold, and medicines flushed down the toilet can contaminate the community water supply. Safely disposing of your unused and expired medications can help prevent accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse, and promotes a healthy environment for your family and neighbors.

Find a Medication Drop Box or Take-Back Program Near You

Did you know that medication drop boxes are a convenient, hassle-free way to safely dispose of your unused and expired medications? They are free and anonymous, and can be found in the following locations in our community:

  • City of Riverton Police Department
  • SageWest Health Care- Riverton, by the cafeteria
  • City of Lander Police Department
  • SageWest Health Care- Lander, in the lobby
  • Dubois Senior Center

Just stop by any one of these locations that are available year-round and drop off those medications that are gathering dust in your medicine cabinet. By properly disposing of them, you’ll be helping to make your home and community healthier.

If you would like more information on prescription drug abuse, visit www.DEA.gov,www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.JustThinkTwice.com.

If you would like more information about safe medication use, visit http://consumermedsafety.org/.