The opioid crisis is not really a crisis in itself: many, and likely the majority of, people prescribed opioid medicines to manage chronic (or acute) pain use opioids correctly and as instructed. However, problems can develop when medicines of all types are not used correctly, or if people other than those that they are prescribed to, use medicines prescribed to someone else.
How do you ensure you are using medications properly?
As someone who takes prescription medication for ADHD (psychostimulants), I am on a controlled drug. People use these drugs improperly, which means it is up to me to ensure my medication is in my possession, and that I do not inadvertently give access to anybody who may misuse my medication. This is the same for opiates, and other potentially addictive medications: they are not in themselves addictive, and typically, become addictive when they are misused or abused by the person they are prescribed for OR another person.
How do you ensure you are taking medications properly?
- Read the prescription label and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.
- Do not change the dose of your medication unless your doctor has instructed to. Do not take more or less of your medication than prescribed, unless advised by your doctor.
- Ensure your medicine is out of reach of children and inaccessible to teenagers, and in some cases, other adults.
- If you are on a commonly misused medication, keep an eye on your medication supply if you are concerned someone else may have access to it and may be misusing it. Request smaller supplies from your pharmacy to limit access to “extra pills”.
- Understand how your medicines may interact with other medicines or alcohol 
Discouraging abuse of medicines
The type of medication you use may also prevent it from being misused. For instance, longer-acting forms of ADHD medicines like the ones I take, depending on the formulation, may be impossible to misuse. For instance, brand-name Concerta’s delivery mechanism makes it impossible to crush or chew the capsule, and Vyvanse’s beads do not activate until in the bloodstream (meaning that, if snorted, they won’t produce a “high”). This may be true of other medicines, too, such as implants or patches to deliver a slower more controlled dose of the needed drug. If you are concerned about your medicine being misused by someone who regularly has access to you or your medicines, speak with your doctor or pharmacist about a potential alternative dosing method.
If you have chronic illness, it is likely you are taking multiple medications. Wearing a medical ID bracelet and ensuring you are using your medicines properly and at the right times can help keep you safe and healthy.