We can all help prevent the misuse of prescription medications as well as overdoses by following these guidelines.

Take and Store Medication Safely

  • Follow the directions as explained on medication labels or by the pharmacist.
  • Do not drink alcohol if you are taking opioids. Combining alcohol with opioids increases the risk for death from overdose 20%.
  • Be aware of potential interactions with other drugs. Anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax or Klonopin when combined with opioids increase the chance of overdose 10 times.
  • Avoid stopping or changing a dosing regimen without first discussing it with your doctor. You may go into withdrawal or become over-sedated.
  • Never use another person’s prescription, and never give your prescription medications to others.
  • Store prescription stimulants, sedatives, and opioids safely. For safe storage tips, see Store & Dispose Safely.

Help Those Who Misuse Medications

  • Notice signs of opioids being misused. If someone doesn’t come out of a bathroom in a reasonable period of time, for example, investigate. Remember that most overdoses are unintentional.
  • Help someone in trouble get treatment. Medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine or methadone is the most evidence-based way to turn a life around. Ask a health care professional or your insurance company for a referral to someone who provides this care.
  • For people who use drugs: don’t use alone and have naloxone available. Be careful with new batches of drugs. If you have recently been in treatment or jail remember that your tolerance is much lower than when you went into that environment. Get help and be careful.

Rely Less on Opioids

Due to the potential for drug interactions, patients should always inform their health care professionals about all the prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and dietary and herbal supplements they are taking before they obtain any other medications.