Here's how to safely dispose of your prescription pain killers

Drug take back
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Opioids have long been used by veterans with service-connected ailments like chronic pain.

But, what should you do with the medication when you no longer need it and have unused pills in your medicine cabinet?

In time for National Prescription Take Back Day on April 27,  the Food and Drug Administration is providing information on how to safely dispose of opioids.

“Our hope is that we can change the tendency to hold on to them," said Dr. Douglas Throckmorton, deputy director for Regulatory Programs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA.

Throckmorton said that over 100 Americans die each day as the result of an opioid overdose and millions more are addicted to the prescription pain killers. Half of those who misuse opioids obtain the drugs from a friend or family member, he said.

The campaign asks consumers to go through their medicine cabinets, drawers – anywhere they keep unused opioid pills, patches or syrups and dispose of them safely by taking them to a military medical center, VA hospital or approved Drug Enforcement Agency disposal site in their community.

Throckmorton said it is clear that opioids play an important role in controlling chronic pain that many veterans experience as a result of their military service. But, if unused opioids are not properly disposed of and fall into the wrong hands, accidental overdoses and even death can be the result.

“They need to be stored safely and disposed of safely,” he said.

Overdose risk higher for veterans getting opioids from both VA and other places

Throckmorton said prescription medications, including opioids, should be kept in a location that’s out of the reach of kids and pets. Medications should also never be left out in the open, he added.

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