What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet?
Ready for a deep clean of your bathroom, but not sure where to start? Take a look behind the mirror.
Minnesotans filled more than 60 million prescriptions at retail pharmacies in 2015. Chances are, if you open your medicine cabinet you’ll find some old orange bottles.
It’s very important to be aware of the potential dangers of keeping these old pills, particularly narcotic painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.
What dangers are hiding in your family’s bathroom? Find out by following two fictional patients in Faribault, MN: Emily and Ben.
Ben and Emily arrive at the emergency room.
Ben experiences a sudden onset of severe back pain after working in the yard. His wife rushes him to the emergency room at the local hospital. The ER doctor identifies an irreducible hernia that will need surgery. Ben is prescribed OxyContin, an opioid pain medication, to help him manage the pain before and after the repair.
Emily is playing volleyball with her family when she takes a bad fall and hears her knee pop. Her daughter rushes her to the emergency room at the local hospital. The ER doctor identifies a torn ACL that will need surgery. Emily is prescribed OxyContin, an opioid pain medication, to help her manage the pain before and after the repair.
Ben and Emily recover.
Ben’s surgery goes well. After a few weeks, he is starting to feel a lot better and get back to his daily routine. He stops taking his painkillers. Ben stores the unused pills in his medicine cabinet.
Emily’s surgery goes well. After a few weeks, she is starting to feel a lot better and get back to her daily routine. She stops taking her painkillers. Emily stores the unused pills in her medicine cabinet.
Ben and Emily clean their medicine cabinets.
A few months after surgery, Ben notices his old prescription in the back of his bathroom mirror. He decides to bring them to a drop-off box at the local police department for safe disposal.
A few months after surgery, Emily notices her old prescription in the back of her bathroom mirror. She is worried about another injury and decides to hold on to them for now.
Ben and Emily’s families visit.
Ben’s family gets together to celebrate the 4th of July at his house. Ben takes it easy, enjoying watching the kids play a game of soccer in the yard.
Emily’s family gets together for the 4th of July at her house. She is outside enjoying a game of volleyball when one of her teenage nephews discovers the extra prescription medicine in the cabinet. He takes the bottle. A few days later he takes the medication, which results in an overdose. He is rushed to the emergency room.
Emily’s story may sound like an after school special, but here are the facts:
- 70 percent of people who have misused prescription pain relievers got them first from friends or relatives. One in five teens has used prescription medication to get high.
- Over a five-year period between 2009 and 2014, the number of opioid-related emergency room visits in Minnesota doubled.
- Nearly 400 Minnesotans died last year as a result of opioid overdoses; the opioid crisis kills more Minnesotans than car crashes.
Keep yourself, your friends and family safe — check the bottles in your cabinet and safely dispose of unneeded medications.
Where to dispose of unneeded medication
If you throw your unused opioid prescriptions in the trash, you run the risk that someone will find them and misuse them. Fortunately for Minnesotans, there are currently more than 240 medication collection boxes located at hospitals, law enforcement facilities, and pharmacies in our state. Many locations accept controlled substances, which include narcotic painkillers like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.
Be aware that not all prescription drug collection sites accept controlled substances. To find a take-back location that accepts controlled substances near you, click here.
These collection sites do not charge any disposal fees.