Prioritize personal, community health by safely managing medications

Many of us have taken medicine to help heal from illness or injury at some point in our lives. In fact, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, nearly half of American adults used a prescription drug within the past 30 days. That’s why it’s so important to establish and maintain safe medication habits.

Medication Safety Best Practices

Although medications can provide many benefits, their misuse can pose a serious health risk to you and your community. According to findings from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 51 percent of people who misused pain relievers in the past year obtained them from a friend or relative. The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to practice medication safety:

Use medications responsibly. Take your medications only as prescribed by your provider, and don’t share your prescription medications with anyone. Here are some other helpful tips:

*Always keep a current list of the medications you are taking, including ones you only take on occasion. Include the medication name, dose, how often you take it, the method for taking it (by mouth, injection, etc.) and the reason for taking it.

*Don’t forget to include over-the-counter drugs, herbals, vitamins and dietary supplements. Share your list with close family members and keep a copy in your wallet.

*Include any allergies, the names and phone numbers of your providers and your preferred pharmacy on this list.

*Don’t hesitate to ask your provider or pharmacist if you have questions about side effects or drug interactions with your medications.

Ensure proper storage. Always relock the cap on medicine bottles and keep your medicines in a safe and locked location out of the reach of children and out of sight from friends and visitors. Each year, approximately 50,000 children younger than 6 years old end up in the Emergency Room after accessing medications when caregivers aren’t present, and many people who misuse pain medications obtain them from a friend or relative.

Safely dispose of unused or expired medications. Never throw your medications in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Discarded medications can be easily retrieved and abused or illegally sold, and medicines flushed down the toilet can contaminate the community water supply. Safely dispose of your unused and expired medications to help prevent accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse, while promoting a healthy environment for your family and neighbors.

Find a Medication Drop Box or Take-Back Program Near You

Medication drop boxes are a convenient, free and anonymous way to safely dispose of your unused and expired medications. They can be found at the following locations in our community:

*Sanford Police — 225 East Weatherspoon Street, Sanford

*Walgreen’s Pharmacy — 1956 S Horner Blvd, Sanford

*Walmart Pharmacy — 3310 Nc Highway 87 S, Sanford

*CVS Pharmacy — 1802 South Horner Blvd, Sanford

Just stop by any one of these locations that are available year-round and drop off those unused or expired medications that are gathering dust in your medicine cabinet. By properly disposing of them, you’ll be helping to make your home and community healthier.

If you would like more information on prescription drug abuse, visit, and

If you would like more information about safe medication use, visit

Feature photo: Vanessa King, Pharm.D., MBA, Director of Pharmacy, Central Carolina Hospital. Courtesy photo. 

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel contributor Vanessa King, Pharm.D., MBA, Director of Pharmacy, Central Carolina Hospital.

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