Prescription medications are provided by doctors to treat ailments, reduce infections, and relieve pain. While beneficial to many, prescription drugs are not without their dangers. Much like illicit “street” drugs, prescription medications can also be abused.

While doctors must prescribe medications thoughtfully, especially to those who have experienced addiction issues in the past, patients can also take certain steps to prevent dependencies from occurring.

Always take medications as recommended

Your prescribing doctor will provide medication based on your specific need and medical condition. When taking medication, be sure you are following the doctor’s instructions when it comes to dosage. Doubling up your dose for a more intoxicating effect can quickly lead to dependency and abuse. Additionally, taking the medication in an incorrect manner (such as crushing up pills and snorting them) is also extremely problematic and often lead to addiction.

Talk with your doctor about abuse risks

All medications have risks and side effects. Make sure you understand these risks well before taking a new medication. It is also crucial that your doctor knows your background and history when it comes to drug abuse. You may be able to take another medication with less abuse potential. Have a frank discussion before beginning a new medication regimen to prevent addiction issues.

Safely dispose of prescriptions medication when necessary

If you are prescribed pain pills after a medical procedure, pain may subside before the prescription runs out. Instead of leaving the bottle to linger around your home, take the proper steps to dispose of it in a safe manner. Open the bottle containing the drugs and mix in distasteful substances, such as kitty litter or coffee grounds. Next, take the bottle and seal it in a plastic bag before discarding it in your trash. Some medications can be safely flushed, but be sure to consult the directions for the proper disposal method.