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      Prescription painkiller safety

      Itâ??s hard to believe that since 2007, more women have died from prescription drug overdoses than from motor vehicle crashes. But according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control, the dangers of prescription painkillers are real and should not go unnoticed.

      â??Theyâ??re very dangerous and should be used under close supervision of a physician,â?? said VA pharmacist, Andrew Jodocy. â??Narcotics are responsible for the vast majority of adverse drug events, when something goes wrong.â??

      To be clear, not all painkillers are considered narcotics. â??There are three different classes of painkillers,â?? Jodocy said. â??You have the over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol, ibuprofen. Then there are the non-narcotics, which is similar to ibuprofen, but stronger. Finally, you have the narcotic class, or the controlled substance class, like hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine.â??

      Itâ??s this group of painkillers that does the most damage when misused; theyâ??re the ones that play a role in many of the painkiller fatalities that appear to be increasing.

      When it comes to disposing of your prescription painkillers, keep in mind that there's a very specific process. You simply cannot throw the pills into a garbage can.

      National Take-Back initiatives are a great way to properly dispose of medication, just like other mail-in prescription return programs.

      Another important reminder: no sharing. â??It is illegal and incredibly dangerous for somebody to be sharing controlled substances,â?? Jodocy said.

      Recognizing that prescription painkillers bring immense relief to many patients, it's just as crucial to recognize all the risks.

      â??Itâ??s important as a patient that you are as involved in your own health treatments as possible,â?? Jodocy stressed.