Submitted by Thurston County Public Health and Social Services

Many of us have prescription medicine that we no longer need or want taking up space in bathroom cabinets, or on pantry shelves and bedside tables. Kids of all ages are naturally curious, and it’s important to realize that access to medications can pose serious risks to children and young people.

You can protect the children in your family by following two simple rules with your medications.

  • Safely store the medicines you are using.
  • Safely dispose of medications that are no longer in use.

Opioids are in the news, but most of us don’t connect the idea of our current and leftover pain medications with possible opioid abuse. We may not even realize which medications are considered opioids. Prescription opioids have better-known brand names and generic names. If you have any of these, make them a priority for secure storage while in use, and for safe disposal when no longer needed:

  • OxyContin, Percocet or Oxycodone
  • Vicodin or Hydrocodone
  • Dilaudid or Hydromorphone
  • Opana or Oxymorphone

Safely Store your Prescription Medicine

For medicines that are currently in use, it’s important to store them properly. About 75% of opioid misuse starts with people using medication that wasn’t prescribed for them – usually taken from a friend or family member. The best way to keep medications out of curious hands, regardless of age, is to keep them out of sight and locked away. Learn more about safe medication storage at www.Getthefactsrx.com

For younger children, safe storage of prescription medication and proper disposal can prevent an accidental overdose or poisoning. The Washington Poison Control Center has more information to help prevent poisonings.

Safely Dispose of Unwanted Medications for Free

Local law enforcement has safe, prescription medicine drop-boxes all across Thurston County. They are free for the community to use. You can easily get rid of unwanted medications at the following places: Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, Lacey Police Department, Rainier City Hall, Tenino Police Department, Tumwater Police Department, Yelm Police Department and Walgreens in Olympia. These drop-boxes are secure, and look a lot like metal ballot boxes (see image). To find the addresses and hours for these sites and any others across Washington, go to: https://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/personalhealth/unwantedmedication/index.html 

Yet another reason for safe disposal of medications is to protect our water supplies. Medications flushed down the toilet eventually make their way into our drinking water, lakes, rivers and into Puget Sound.

As you can see there are many reasons to properly dispose of the medicines that you no longer need, as well as to secure the medications that you are currently taking. By taking some of these steps, you’ll be doing the right thing for those you love and keeping our community healthier too.

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