Drugs & Health Blog

You Can Help Reduce the Opioid Crisis

Image by FDA.

The NIDA Blog Team

Janet Woodcock, M.D.
Director, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

You’ve probably heard a lot about our country’s opioid crisis. Stories about it are everywhere: online, in the news, and on social media. You may even personally know a friend or a family member who has been affected.

In the past, when it came to drug deals, the media painted a picture of drug abusers getting an opioid “fix,” during shady transactions. But it’s become clear that very often, people get opioids in a far less ominous way: They take them from someone’s house. The fact is, there’s a staggering amount of prescription opioids in the medicine cabinets and other storage places in households all over America.

When initially taking these drugs, some people may think of this as a form of innocent experimenting, but sadly, many of the next victims you’ll read or hear about—or even know personally—will have died from an overdose of opioids they took from someone else’s prescription bottle.

You can help reduce the impact of this opioid crisis. Here’s how:

  • Tell your friends who may want to experiment in this way that prescription opioids can be just as dangerous as heroin.
  • Tell your parents and family members that it’s not a good idea to keep unused, unwanted, or expired opioids around the house “just in case” they’re needed for pain. The risk is just way too high!

How many prescription opioids are out there? In 2016, retail pharmacies dispensed more than 214 million first-time or refill opioid prescriptions. As many as 9 out of every 10 of these patients report not finishing what has been prescribed to them. That’s a lot of leftover opioid prescription bottles—and every one of them has the potential to kill.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has developed a simple infographic to walk through the process step by step for drug disposal. Contrary to what a lot of people think, it’s okay to flush the opioids on the FDA’s “flush list” down the toilet. We need to get them out of our homes.

(Post continues below the infographic.)

An infographic on ways to safely dispose unused medicines.
Drug Disposal Options Infographic (PDF-2.1MB)

Today, teens are taking on important new leadership roles when it comes to public health topics. Use that same energy to step up and lead another way: Make sure your house is free of unwanted, unused, and expired opioids. Encourage your friends to do the same and let them know that using other people’s opioids can be deadly.

Teens can play a big role in this effort. We, and especially your friends and family, need your help!

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


This article gave me ways of preventing my friends from doing drugs. It gave helpful facts on how and helpful rules

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