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Safe medication storage

Approximately 2 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers for the first time during 2016, according to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Learn how to protect your family, friends and guests to your home when you have to keep medications onsite.

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Between 1999 and 2017, more than 700,000 people died from drug overdose — more than two-thirds of those involved opioid abuse. Treat all medications with care; learn which ones might be addictive or have value on the black market.

Medications for pain (opioids)


  • Vicodin
  • Lortab
  • Norco
  • Hysingla
  • Exalgo


  • Dilaudid


  • Percodan
  • Percocet
  • Oxycontin
  • Xtampza


  • MS-Contin
  • Oramorph SR
  • Roxanol
  • Kadian
  • Hydromorphone
  • Dilaudid

Medications for anxiety (benzodiazepines)


  • Xanax


  • Ativan


  • Klonopin


  • Valium

Medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (stimulants)


  • Adderall
  • Adderall XR


  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • Methylin

Keep medications that you are using to treat current problems.

  • Keep a medication journal that you can share with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Discuss your medications with your doctor, to make sure you still need the ones you’re taking.
  • Go through your prescription and over-the-counter medications at least once a year, and discard anything you’re not currently using.
  • Consider medications expired one year after the prescription is filled, unless otherwise noted.

Misuse of and addiction to prescription drugs is at a crisis level in the United States. The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that in 2016, for the first time:

  • About 2 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers.
  • More than a million people misused prescription stimulants.
  • 1.5 million misused tranquilizers, and 271,000 misused sedatives.

Young people are at risk

Among people 18 to 25 years old, 14.4 percent reported non-medical use of prescription drugs in the past year. Among youth 12 to 17 years old, 4.9 percent reported non-medical use of prescription medications.

Keep them safe

Securely store medications that you need regularly. Keep them out of sight and out of reach of others, including children, family, friends and visitors.

  • Consider investing in a lock box, or install a lock on a cabinet for medicine storage.
  • Keep medications in their original containers.

Do not save or share unused medications.

Protect your medication from loss or theft when you are out in the community or traveling.

  • Hide pharmacy bags when you leave your car.
  • Do not keep loose pills in plastic bags or containers in your purse, backpack, or luggage.
  • If staying with friends or friends, find a safe storage spot that keeps your medicines out of sight and reach.
  • If you are staying in a hotel room, use a room safe to store medications.

Accidental poisoning

The Minnesota Poison Control System reports that more than 60 percent of the calls it receives each year involve prescription and/or over-the-counter drugs.

  • If someone is in danger, call 911.
  • Save the Poison Help number in your phone and display it somewhere visible in your house: 1-800-222-1222.
  • Keep numbers for your pharmacy and doctors in one place, preferably with an up-to-date list of all of the medicines that you take.

Learn more about the Minnesota Poison Control System.

Addiction help

Hennepin County offers many resources to connect people with help to seek recovery from substance use disorder.

Learn more about Hennepin County's addiction resources.

The U.S. government also provides anonymous connections to treatment resources anywhere in the United States.

Explore the SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.

Theft of medications

If you suspect that your medications have been stolen, call 911.

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