Proper drug storage is essential to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, and those around you. This is especially important if you are taking multiple medications and need to keep track of them all. Knowing how to store drugs correctly can help prevent misuse or accidental ingestion by children or pets. Here are six important guidelines about proper drug storage that everyone should follow:
1. Keep all medications in their original, labeled containers:
Using alternative storage containers can make it difficult to identify medications or keep track of expiration dates. Keeping medications in their original containers also prevents accidental misuse and helps ensure that the correct dosage is taken. In addition, it’s important to store all medications out of reach of children and pets. Also, keep medications in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. For example, a medicine cabinet in the bathroom or kitchen is a good option.
2. Dispose of expired medications:
Expired medications can be less effective and even potentially harmful if taken, so it’s important to regularly check expiration dates and get rid of any outdated medications. The best way to dispose of old drugs is to take them to a drug collection site. If no such sites are available, mix the medication with something like coffee grounds, put it in an opaque container, and then throw it away in your trash bin. Never flush expired medication down the toilet unless instructed by your pharmacist or healthcare provider!
3. Store drugs in a cool, dry place:
Extreme temperatures can cause medications to break down and become ineffective. To avoid this, keep all drugs away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and moisture. A medicine cabinet or drawer in the bathroom is an ideal spot for storing most drugs, but some require special storage conditions (more on that below). Different medications should also be separated from one another to avoid confusion and stored differently. For example, if a healthcare facility has vaccines they should follow the correct storage for vaccines to avoid spoilage. This includes maintaining a temperature range of 35-46 F, keeping the vaccine away from any direct light or heat sources, and storing them separately.
4. Store “controlled drugs” securely:
Some drugs are classified as “controlled substances” since they have the potential for misuse or abuse. These include opioid painkillers, anxiety medications, and stimulants used to treat ADHD. Controlled drugs should be stored in a locked cabinet out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion or abuse. Pharmacies also keep controlled substances under separate locks and keys for extra security. Additionally, it is important to monitor the number of controlled medications you have, as well as keep track of any refills or changes in dosage.
5. Lock away certain medications:
Medications like opioids, sedatives, and stimulants can be especially dangerous if misused or taken by someone other than the prescribed individual. To prevent accidental ingestion or abuse of these substances, it’s important to lock them away in a secure location. This is especially true for households with children or pets who could easily access the medications. Also, if you are traveling with any medications, make sure to keep them in their original containers and locked away at all times. For example, store them in a travel bag with a lock. Also, never leave medications in the car during hot weather.
6. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist:
If you have any questions about how to properly store medications, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist. They can provide specific information on the best way to store each medication and answer any other questions you may have. Also, if you notice that medication has changed color, texture, or smell, ask your healthcare provider for advice before taking it — this could be a sign that the medication has gone bad and needs to be thrown away or replaced. Moreover, if you have any unused or expired medications, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about proper disposal methods. Keeping your medications stored and disposed of properly is essential for protecting your health and the safety of others.
In conclusion, storing medications properly is essential for protecting your health and the safety of others. Make sure to regularly check expiration dates, store drugs in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources, securely lock away controlled substances like opioids and stimulants, and talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about storage or disposal methods. Taking these simple precautions will help keep you safe when using medications at home.