COVID-19 Highlights Importance of Safe Storage and Disposal

With more Americans being encouraged to stay “safer at home” during the COVID-19 pandemic, they also are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety. Nearly half of adults report that their mental health has been negatively impacted by worry and stress related to coronavirus.

Mental health and substance abuse challenges often are connected. If there are prescription opioids in your home, it is even more important to ensure these medicines are either securely stored — or safely disposed of — to prevent misuse and abuse. Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA) has a number of resources to inform consumers about best practices to keep your home and family safe during this challenging time.

Safe storage is an important part of reducing misuse and abuse of prescription opioids, because opioid misuse can start in the home. More than half of those who misused prescription pain relievers in the past year said that they obtained the medicine from a friend or relative. AAOA provides tips for consumers to safely store their prescription opioids, such as keeping opioids in a locked cabinet or lockbox, making sure medications are out of reach of young children and disposing of medicines when finished.

While public events, such as the spring DEA Prescription Drug Take Back Day, were canceled, there are still opportunities to safely dispose of prescription opioids. The AAOA safe disposal resource offers guidance on what you can do while at home. Medication disposal bags are available for purchase online or may be available from your pharmacy; the FDA also recommends disposing of certain medications by flushing them.

AAOA also provides an updated disposal locator for all 50 states. Many of these locations remain open for contactless disposal amid COVID-19, but it is recommended individuals call to confirm before visiting the locations.

Individuals and families facing opioid abuse challenges are encouraged to use the free, confidential, 24-hour national helpline operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The helpline provides information in English and Spanish along with referrals to treatment facilities and community-based organizations that can help support Americans during this crisis.

While at home, you also may wish to browse our consumer resources and share them with your networks to help educate your friends and neighbors. Recent resources include:

Safe storage and disposal of prescription opioids can help keep your family safer during this time. As Americans take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we encourage you to also remember the important steps to safely store and dispose of prescription opioids.