Safe Use Safe Storage Safe Disposal

Learn SAFER ways to Use, Store, and Dispose of Medications.

Note: If you are experiencing an emergency, stop reading and call 911 (medical/police) immediately. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988 (mental health lifeline) to speak with a counselor.


Safer Use. Safer Storage. Safer Disposal.

The same prescription medications that help you feel better can hurt you or someone else when they’re not used, stored, and disposed of properly.

Why it matters: Using, storing, and disposing of medications properly can prevent unwanted side effects including misuse and accidental overdose. Just a few basic precautions can make a world of difference.

We’ll get into some specific tips and best practices next, but the short version is this:

Only take medications that were prescribed to you, in the correct dosage, at the correct frequency. Don’t take them after they’ve expired — that’s dangerous.
Label, store, and secure your medications so others can’t access them.
When disposing of expired or unwanted medications, mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter, and seal them together in a plastic bag before throwing them away. Or, even better, find a Medication Drop Box at a local law enforcement agency and dispose of them there.

Safer Use

Using Your Medications

Prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs when not taken as prescribed.

Make a List

Document all your medications and dosages, and share it with your doctor. Ideally, ensure the list is easily accessible (like on your phone or in your wallet) so it can be shared quickly in case of a medical emergency.

Note: Anytime you begin or stop taking a medication, it’s important to update this list and notify your doctor. Don’t forget to include vitamins and supplements, too.

Take the recommended dosage at the recommended frequency.

Sometimes we think an extra pill or two will help us feel better, or that taking that next dose an hour early won’t make a big difference. But those recommendations are there for a reason, and ignoring them can do real harm to your body, both in the short and long term. Even if you don’t feel the immediate impact of an extra pill here or there, the damage can compound and cause damage to your internal organs over time. It’s not worth it.

Take your medications with water. Then drink some more.

Your body needs help to dissolve and circulate medication through your body, and the easiest, most effective way to do that is with water.

Note: Avoid alcohol or other substances that could compound your medicine’s side effects or hinder your awareness, and watch your intake of caffeine or other substances that could dehydrate you while your body needs to recover. Stick to water.

Have a plan in case of an emergency.

The unexpected sometimes happens. Be prepared.

  • Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist about naloxone, a safe and effective drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.
  • If you find it hard to stop taking your medications, or you feel a compulsion to take more than prescribed, call 211 for help finding treatment referrals.
  • Store the number for Poison Control on your phone and even place the number on a sticker inside your medicine cabinet, just in case: 1-800-222-1222. Seriously, do it — it could save someone’s life (even your own).

Safer Storage

Storing Your Medications

Note: Most Oklahomans who have abused medications got them from family or friends. Let’s be good neighbors, family members, and protectors to one another.

Your medications are prescribed for you. Don’t sell or share them with others.

Outside of the common over-the-counter drugs for aches or a common cold, drugs are prescribed to you and only you, in order to regulate dosage, protect against abuse, and prevent accidents from happening. If someone has run out of a prescription, don’t “loan” them a pill — encourage them to refill their prescription if they need to.

Note: Selling prescription drugs is a crime that can lead to jail time, fines, and can make you liable if others are harmed.

Store your medications in a safe, secure place. Lock your medicine cabinet if you can.

Keep medications safely away from kids, relatives, pets, and visitors to your home.

When traveling, separate and label medications.

Some pills look similar to others, and could be easily confused when taken in a rush, out of a normal environment, or on a different schedule.

Safer Disposal

Disposing of Your Medications

Take simple steps to render discarded medications useless.

There are a few simple things you can do to ensure others don’t access, use, or abuse your discarded medications.

  • Take medications to a Medication Drop Box (or Take Back). These are often found at law enforcement agencies in your community. You can find a location near you by visiting the website for The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.
  • If you need to discard medications at home, mix the medications with kitty litter or used coffee grounds, and seal them together in a plastic bag before discarding.
  • Unless packaging specifically directs you to flush expired or unused medications down the toilet, try not to discard your medications this way. Flushing medications can pollute the water supply or unintentionally expose someone else to unsafe chemicals.

Dispose of expired or unneeded medications as soon as possible.

Don’t leave a few pills left for a rainy day — medications don’t work like that, and taking something after it’s expired can lead to unexpected side effects or diminished returns.