New Checklist Aims to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse

June 30, 2015
Rachel Lutz

Pharmacists and their patients can help prevent prescription drug misuse, abuse, and diversion through a new educational tool launched by the Alliance for Balanced Pain Management (AfBPM).

Pharmacists and their patients can help prevent prescription drug misuse, abuse, and diversion through a new educational tool launched by the Alliance for Balanced Pain Management (AfBPM).

This online tool offers tips on monitoring, safeguarding, and properly disposing of prescription drugs—especially pain medications, which have the highest risk for misuse and abuse.

“There is an epidemic of medicine abuse in our country, and children and teens are especially at risk for prescription medicine abuse, misuse, and diversion,” an AfBPM spokesperson told Pharmacy Times in an e-mail, noting that an estimated 71,000 children visit US emergency rooms for unintentional medication poisonings each year. “Nearly every home is in danger of inappropriate prescription medicine use, and the checklist helps individuals and families recognize and minimize the risk.”

Key practice points in the “Are You the Only One Taking Your Medicine?” checklist include:

  • Monitoring medications, noting how many pills are in the medicine cabinet, keeping track of refills, and following directions on how to properly take the drug.
  • Safeguarding medications by keeping them out of reach, out of sight, and away from public spaces in the house. Pharmacists can suggest locking drugs away to prevent tampering.
  • Properly disposing expired or unused medications, using at-home drug neutralization systems or returning the medication to an official drug take-back location, such as a pharmacy.
  • Openly discussing monitoring, safeguarding, and disposing of prescription medications with family, friends, and neighbors to keep the community safe. Most teens reporting abuse of prescription painkillers are obtaining them from family, friends, and acquaintances, according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Pharmacists are one of the last lines of defense against prescription drug abuse in the home, and this checklist can help facilitate discussion with consumers directly to help reduce it, the AfBPM spokesperson noted.

“When dispensing prescription pain medicines, pharmacists can remind consumers about the medicine abuse epidemic this country is currently facing,” the spokesperson continued. “Pharmacists can then run through the checklist, which will help demonstrate that nearly every home is at risk for medicine misuse, abuse, or diversion, and offer tips from the tool for how to monitor, safeguard, and properly dispose of prescription medicines in an effort to protect families and the community at large.”