Safe medication habits are healthy ones

By Teresa LeMaster - Guest columnist

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re no stranger to taking medicine. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 82 percent of American adults take at least one medication and 29 percent take five or more.

Medications are a vital part of healing from illness or injury and managing ongoing conditions so that you can be your healthiest self and get the most out of life.

While medications can provide many benefits, misusing them can be detrimental to your health and negatively impact the health and safety of your community.

Here are some reminders to help you develop safe medication habits:

Use medications responsibly

Take your medications only as prescribed by your doctor, and don’t share your prescription medications with anyone else. Medicines can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription or a doctor’s supervision.

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

• In addition to prescriptions, be sure to include over-the-counter medications, herbals, vitamins and dietary supplements. Share your list with close family members, and keep a copy in your wallet.

• Include allergies, your doctor(s) name and phone number and your preferred pharmacy on this list.

• Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about side effects or drug interactions with your medications.

Store properly

• Always re-lock the cap on your medicine bottles, and keep medicines in a safe and locked location out of the reach of children and out of sight from friends and visitors. Each year, approximately 60,000 children visit the ER after accessing medications when adults aren’t present. Many people who become addicted to opioid medications get them from a friend or relative’s medicine cabinet.

Safe disposal

• Safely dispose of unused or expired medications. Don’t throw them in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Medications that are thrown away can be easily retrieved and abused or illegally sold, while medicine that is flushed down the toilet can contaminate the water supply. Safe disposal of medications can help prevent accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse, and promotes 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, hassle-free way to safely dispose of your unused and expired medications. Medication drop boxes are free and anonymous and can be found in the following locations:

• Wilmington Police Department, 69 N. South St., Wilmington – available 24/7 right outside dispatch door in municipal building

• Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, 1645 Davids Drive, Wilmington – available 24/7 just inside front doors

Simply stop by any one of these locations and drop off those medications that are gathering dust in your medicine cabinet.

Please note that these drop-off locations do not allow disposal of liquids or needles and should only be used for disposing of pills.

By properly disposing of your unused and expired medications, you’ll be helping to make your home safer and your community healthier.

If you would like more information on prescription drug abuse, visit, and For more information about safe medication use, visit

Teresa LeMaster, PharmD, is Director of Pharmacy and Respiratory for Clinton Memorial Hospital in Wilmington.

By Teresa LeMaster

Guest columnist