October is Talk About Prescriptions month. It is designed to communicate the importance of safe and appropriate prescription drug use.

Research indicates that more than 7 million Americans abuse prescription drugs. Drug abuse was once considered an issue only among the young. However, substance abuse is also a problem among older adults.

According to the National Council on Patient Information and Education, among those age 60 and older, more than one-quarter take 3-4 prescription drugs in the past month, while over one-third take five or more.

Taking several medications can be hard to manage. If not taken properly, combined therapies can result in toxic levels or potential abuse.

People believe prescription drugs are always safe because they are FDA approved and prescribed by a doctor. However, some medications can be harmful when used together. Others have a high potential for abuse if taken differently than prescribed.

Patients may misunderstand their doctor’s recommendations and end up unintentionally misusing the medications. Avoiding the risks are simple. Communication between a patient and health care professionals is vital. Be sure to educate yourself about your medications:

  • Keep a list of all the medications you are currently taking.
  • Review your prescriptions with your health care professional at least twice a year.
  • Take your prescription EXACTLY as directed

For more information about medication safety, visit metrodrug.org.