Know Your Meds: Patient and physicians as partners



Tremendous advancements in science and medicine have revolutionized the treatment of conditions and diseases that were once unmanageable. Prescription medicines have become an essential lifeline for many Kentuckians, helping them to better treat their pain, seizures, mental illnesses and other serious ailments.

When patients adhere to the treatments prescribed by physicians, their health outcomes and quality of life can often be improved. But the dangers of misuse and abuse are always present, particularly when dealing with powerful opioids to manage pain.

Nearly one in four Kentucky adults report that a family member or friend has experienced problems as a result of abusing prescription pain relievers.

Prescription drug abuse has become one of Kentucky’s most pressing and publicized public health epidemics. In recent months, there has been no shortage of news stories about the tragic, often deadly, consequences of drug abuse and addiction.

That’s why the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care and the Kentucky Medical Association are launching Know Your Meds KY. This statewide campaign will encourage patients to look to their physicians for education about how best to use, store and dispose of their medicines in the safest way possible. It will also encourage physicians throughout the Commonwealth to take an active role in educating their patients about the importance of adhering to prescription schedules and how to safely dispose of unused medicines.

A simple conversation with your physician can go a long way in equipping you with the knowledge you need to use, store and dispose of your medicines in the safest way possible.

Prescription medicines save lives. But if used improperly, they can also be dangerous—especially if they get into the wrong hands.

Studies have shown that 75 percent of teens say they can access prescription pills at home, and a quarter of them will go on to abuse prescription medicines. Many accidental overdoses occur when individuals abuse medications prescribed to other family members in their households.

Safely storing your prescription drugs will help to prevent abuse and accidental overdose. Proper disposal of unused medications is also critical to keeping prescription drugs away from anyone who might misuse or abuse them. Kentuckians can dispose of their expired or unwanted medications at one of the state’s many prescriptions drop boxes. There are now 190 locations in 116 counties, with new sites being added daily. You can visit the Office of Drug Control Policy web site.

If you cannot make it to a drop box, you should take the correct and necessary steps to properly dispose of your medications at home. You can learn more at

Kentucky doctors are on the front lines of the prescription drug abuse epidemic, and consequently, play an important role in addressing this statewide problem. Know Your Meds KY encourages physicians and patients to work together to prevent prescription drug abuse through knowledge and education. For more information on safe drug use, storage and disposal, visit

-Nancy Swikert, MD, is president of the Kentucky Medical Association.




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