Wellness Wednesday: National Poison Prevention Week

March 20, 2013

The fastest-growing drug problem in the United States is the abuse of prescription medication. It is estimated that 30,000 Americans will die from prescription drug abuse and overdoses this year.

According to the Nebraska Regional Poison Center, poisonings are the leading cause of unintentional home injury deaths for those ages 15 to 59, largely resulting from unintentional drug overdoses of prescription medications.

Most people take prescription medications responsibly; however, there has been a steady increase in the non-medical use of prescription drugs. The most commonly abused medications are the class of drugs known as prescription painkillers, which include drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone.

With National Poison Prevention Week recognized from March 17 to 23, the Nebraska Regional Poison Center offers these tips on safe use of medication:

  • Understand why you are taking each medication. Keep a current list of your medications;
  • Read each label carefully and follow directions. Do not double your medications;
  • If you are a parent, educate yourself first about prescription drug abuse and then talk to your children;
  • Talk to grandparents about what is in their medication cabinet. Store medications in a safe and secure location;
  • Be more aware of your medications - they need to be monitored;
  • Keep medications in their original containers;
  • Never take a prescription medication that was not prescribed for you. They should never be shared;
  • Dispose of old or unused medications that are no longer needed. They should never be flushed;
  • DEA Drug Take Back Day is April 27. The Poison Center can help you find the closest location for convenient drop-off; and
  • Call the Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) if you've taken too much medication. The nurses will provide immediate treatment advice.