Prescription medication safety

Trust Montage Health to help you manage your pain and other symptoms safely and effectively, with less reliance on narcotics or opioids (addictive medications).

Why limit use of opioid drugs?

Opiate or opioid medications, such as hydrocodone, can help treat severe, short-term pain from a kidney stone, broken bone, or other sudden problem. But they also can:

  • Lead to dependency or addiction. If you take the drugs for as little as two weeks, your body may start to build up a tolerance. That means you need more medication to get the same level of relief. If you stop taking the medications suddenly, you may feel flu-like withdrawal symptoms
  • Be dangerous. In high doses, pain medications may make you so sleepy you stop breathing
  • Cause severe constipation and abdominal pain
  • Reduce your pain tolerance. If you take opioids for a long time, you’ll notice that minor injuries, scrapes, and bruises hurt much more than they should

Learn more about the risks of opioid drugs [PDF].

Supporting safe use of medications

If your care plan includes medications that can lead to dependency, we’ll help keep you safe by:

  • Prescribing a limited amount
  • Restricting prescriptions to one doctor and one pharmacy
  • Not prescribing long-acting pain medications, like OxyContin, MS Contin, fentanyl (Duragesic), methadone, Opana ER, and Exalgo
  • Prescribing naloxone [PDF] to stop a life-threatening overdose of opioid pain medications
  • Offering medications you take by mouth instead of injections for flare-ups of chronic pain
  • Asking for your photo ID before we prescribe pain medications
  • Keeping track of all prescriptions you receive
  • Not refilling stolen or lost prescriptions

Secure disposal of drugs

If you have leftover prescription medication, don’t flush it or throw it in the garbage. Those methods can contaminate local bodies of water. Instead, use one of many convenient, safe medication disposal sites in Monterey County.

Alternatives to pain medications

Whenever possible, your healthcare provider will recommend ways to ease pain that don’t require medication. You may benefit from:

  • Complementary and alternative treatments [PDF] – Include acupuncture, chiropractic (spine) care, massage, cold therapy, natural remedies, and many other approaches
  • Physical rehabilitation – Uses a variety of therapies, including soft-tissue mobilization and guided exercise, to help you move with less pain
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy – Places sticky patches on your skin to deliver energy at a level you can control to block pain signals; used especially in the Emergency department

Drug misuse

In addition to opioids, certain legal and illegal drugs that promote relaxation or stimulate the brain carry a high risk for abuse. If you think someone you love is misusing medications, look to Montage Health for support and services that can help.

Drug counseling and treatment

Explore resources for people working to overcome drug addiction:

Need help getting connected to local resources? Call 211 in Monterey County.

Guide for parents

If your child may be misusing medications, review our parents’ guide to prescription drug abuse [PDF] to learn:

  • Commonly abused drugs
  • Signs of medication misuse
  • Ways to help your loved one

Additional resources:

Prescribe Safe

Learn more about how Montage Health helps protect your community from medication misuse through Prescribe Safe. The program is a partnership among many organizations, hospitals, and agencies in Monterey County.

Talk to your doctor

If you have questions about your medications, safe usage, or side effects, call your doctor or pharmacist for confidential, expert advice. 

Know your medications

If you take medications, make sure you:

  • Know each one’s purpose and potential side effects
  • Carry a list of what you take or keep pictures of the bottles on your phone at all times in case of a medical emergency
  • Share your list with your doctors and pharmacists before starting a new medication 

Encourage your loved ones to do the same. 

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