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Robert R. Cawley, D.O.

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Proactive Ways to Combat Opioid Addiction: Safe Storage & Disposal


Four out of five people who become addicted to heroin or fentanyl begin by taking leftover prescription pills, which are often available right in their own homes. New Hampshire’s Zero Left Campaign, supported by Granite Health and its six partner health systems, including Wentworth-Douglass, is focused on educating the public on the potential hazards of opioids and proactive ways to combat opioid addiction.

Start with Safe Storage

All medications that are in current use should be stored in a dry, secure area of the home. An ideal spot is often the upper kitchen cabinets, so that the medications are out of reach of children and out of sight of any houseguests, advises Richard Meinking, Director of Pharmacy at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital.

If there are children at home, it’s good practice to always use the child-lock caps and have the phone number for Poison Control on hand – 1-800-222-1222.

Safely Dispose – Don’t Save!

When prescription medications are no longer needed, there’s no good reason to let them sit in your cabinets. 

Many police stations have drug take back programs, and now Wentworth-Douglass Hospital has its own MedSafe Disposal Box. Community members can access this secure destruction bin 365 days per year to dispose of their unused medications.

If you are unable to access a convenient disposal site, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration still suggests you throw unwanted drugs into the trash by following these guidelines:

Remove the drugs from their containers and mix them with kitty litter or used coffee grounds.

Place the mixture in a sealable plastic bag or other container to prevent it from leaking.

Scratch out any personal information on prescription bottle labels to protect your privacy.

“If the medications are no longer needed, destroy them so they don’t end up on the streets or in the wrong hands. This simple step can help to prevent others from becoming addicted,” says Meinking.

Zero Left Campaign

Wentworth-Douglass recently installed a MedSafe Disposal Box to help get unused prescription drugs out of homes. The effort is part of a Granite Health’s Zero Left Campaign funded through grants from Tufts Health Freedom Plan and Northeast Delta Dental to implement efforts aimed at preventing addiction from opioids.

Pictured: Richard Meinking; Granite Health CMO Dr. Travis Harker; Wentworth-Douglass President & CEO Greg Walker; New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu; Tufts Health Freedom Plan President Brian Wells; and Northeast Delta Dental President & CEO Tom Raffio unveiled the new MedSafe Box to the community in July.

Learn more about the addiction treatment offered through Wentworth-Douglass Health Partners.

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