Office of the Arizona Governor Doug Ducey
Governor's Office of Youth, Faith and Family
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Strategy 1

Strategy 1

Reduce illicit acquisition and diversion of prescription drugs.


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Wellness & Recovery

In Arizona, people are misusing and abusing medications at an alarming rate.  Adults often share prescription medications with friends and family or fail to safely store their medications, leaving them readily accessible to others. Among underage youth misusing or abusing medication, 3 out of 4 receive their supply from everyday sources like friends and family. In fact, many youths find direct access to medication through the family medicine cabinet.  Strategy 1 seeks to reduce illegal access to medications by providing information on how to properly store medication and correctly dispose of unused or expired medication.

There are many actions within Strategy 1 that community groups, such as coalitions, can take that play a major role in combating the prescription drug misuse and abuse epidemic. For example, a coalition may plan to inform their community about the availability of permanent drug drop boxes through or they may choose to partner with a local police precinct and the DEA to host a drug take-back day.

Either of these actions are critical to reducing the illegal acquisition of prescribed medicine in Arizona communities. Steps for educating the community about appropriate storage and disposal along with information about how to host take-back events are outlined in the material below. This strategy also includes flyers and information that can be easily distributed through social media posts, e-mail blasts, homeowner's associations, businesses, or through local media such as newspapers or radio/tv stations.

Strategy 1 Materials

To begin implementing this strategy, simply select files that you are interested in implementing and click the Download button. If you or your community group would like additional guidance in using this or any of the strategies, complete the request a training form below.

Commonly Asked Questions

How do Arizonans get ahold of opioids?

Many people are prescribed opioids from their health care provider, those who are licensed to prescribe controlled substances such as doctors, registered nurse practitioners, dentists, veterinarians. There are also ways that people illicitly obtain opioids. They may access opioids that were prescribed to a friend or family member. Others seek out drug dealers or look in trash bins for disposed drugs. 2 out of 3 Arizona youth who have misused prescription drugs report getting them from friends, family or right out of their home.

What prescription medications should I be concerned about when it comes to proper storage and disposal?

All medications (including over the counter medication and supplements) have the potential to be toxic if used by the wrong person, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reasons, and should be stored out of reach of children and pets. Of greatest concern for both storage and disposal are medications that are listed as “controlled substances” under the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). These substances have a higher potential for abuse and can lead to substance use disorder. 

How can I safely store my prescription medications in my home?

Safe storage of medication in the home is very important.  Children and pets can be inadvertently harmed by getting into medication that is not properly stored, and 2 out 3 Arizona youth who have misused prescription drugs report getting them from friends, family, or right out of their home.  Also, the opioid epidemic has created an environment in which there are those looking to take medications that can be misused or abused either for themselves, due to a substance use disorder, or to sell for profit to those struggling with a disorder or uncontrolled pain.  It is recommended that medications be stored in a locked box and out of the reach of children and pets.  There are products that are designed for safe medication storage, but any locking box will work, and can often be purchased at a local store.   Options include stand-alone boxes, those that attach to a wall, locking caps and locked pouches designed for travel, etc.  An internet search for Medication Lock Boxes or Safe Medicine Storage will provide many options.  If you don't currently have a lock box, or a lock box is not a practical solution for you, store medications in a cool, dry place, up high and out of the reach of children and pets.  The bathroom medicine cabinet or kitchen counters are not safe locations to store medication.  Medications can easily be located there by children and pets or those looking to misuse or abuse them, and the heat and moisture from the bathroom or kitchen can have a negative impact on the medicine.  Also, it is recommended that medication not be taken in front of children, who often mimic the behavior of adults.  For more information, visit

What if there is not a permanent prescription drug drop box in my community? 

Many individuals in the community are unaware of prescription drug drop boxes that are already available near them.  Visit and the DEA to find out if there is a drop off site near you.  If you find that there is not a drop box near you or you are unable to access one, you can dispose of medication at home using these steps outlined by the United States Food and Drug Administration:

    1. Mix the medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds.
    2. Place the mixture in a container such as a zip-top or sealable plastic bag, and throw the container away in your household trash.
    3. Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging remember to scratch out all personal information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.  

There is some prescribed medicine that can be fatal with just one dose if used by someone other than whom it was prescribed. To prevent accidental exposure, it is recommended that these medications be flushed down the toilet if they cannot be disposed of quickly through a permanent drug drop box or a drug take-back event. 

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