10 Prescription Drug Safety Tips That Can Save Your Life

Prescription drugs are supposed to make our lives better. However, if not properly used, these life-savers can become silent killers. Follow these 10 vital tips for safe prescription drug use.

  1. Tell Your Doctor & Pharmacist What Else You’re Taking: Harmful drug interactions are surprisingly common, and extremely dangerous. Before going to the doctor’s or a pharmacy, make a list of all the drugs and supplements you’re currently taking and present this list to your health care provider. It just might save your life.

  2. Review the Side Effects: Before popping that first pill, take a few minutes to read the warning labels provided with every prescription. These warnings are there for a reason.

  3. Don’t Take Drug Given by Others: Well meaning friends and family members may think they know what you need, but don’t trust a drug given to you by anyone besides your pharmacist.

  4. Get Your Pharmacist’ Advice: Recently while filling a prescription for an anti-dandruff shampoo, my pharmacist gave me a tip. “Don’t just rinse it out of your hair in the shower,” he said, “Apply it after a shower and let it soak in your scalp.” I took his advice and couldn’t believe the difference it made. The drug went from being slightly effective to 100% effective. It’s easy to forget that Pharmacists do much more than dish pills. They often pass on valuable information that your doctor doesn’t know.

  5. Scratch the Alcohol: Don’t drink alcohol while taking a prescription or over the counter drug. Alcohol tends to exacerbate the side effects, especially drowsiness.
  6. Don’t Use Expired Drugs: It’s tempting to keep drugs beyond their expiration date in order to save money. Make it a habit to go through your medicine cabinet on a regular basis to purge expired drugs. If you make this a habit when you’re well, you’ll never be tempted to take an expired drug when you’re ill.

  7. Don’t Divide Doses: It’s tempting to save money by dividing doses. However, some drugs are intended to be taken whole, and can have serious side effects if split or crushed.

  8. Store Drugs Properly: Always store drugs in a cool, dark, and dry place. Avoid using bathroom cabinets which are prone to moisture.
  9. Dispose of Drugs Properly: In the past, experts have recommended flushing drugs down the toilet in order to prevent scavenging in the trash. However, recent environmental evidence suggests this isn’t a good idea. Instead, consider concealing old drugs in a bag of coffee grounds or something that wouldn’t be rummaged through.

  10. Ask your Doctor if You Really Need that Drug: We sometimes get into habits without thinking. Quite possibly that drug you’ve been taking for years isn’t needed anymore, and could have long term side effects. Consider talking with your doctor about your regiment, and possibly phasing out a drug that isn’t required. Keep in mind you should NOT go off any drug without first talking to your doctor.