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Pain Medications Mistake No. 8: Hoarding Dead Drugs

Joe's wife is actually to blame for one of his mistakes. She should have disposed of those extra pain pills once she was over her dental pain.

Why? One reason is that pills stored at home start breaking down soon after their expiration date. That's especially true of drugs kept in the moist environment of the bathroom medicine cabinet.

"People say, "That drug is only a year past its expiration date; isn't it good?" But if you take a pill that's broken down, it may not work -- or you may end up in the emergency room because of reaction to a breakdown product. That is really common," Binaso says.

Another reason that it's dangerous to hoard is that the drugs may tempt someone else into making a very bad choice.

"Teen drug abuse is really up, especially with pain medications," Binaso says. "It is not uncommon for kids to go to their parents' or grandparents' medicine cabinet and then go to a party and put the drugs in a bowl."

Pain Medications Mistake No. 9: Breaking Unbreakable Pills

Pills are actually little drug-delivery machines. They don't work the way they're supposed to when taken apart the wrong way.

Scored pills should be cut only across the line, Binaso says. Those without scoring should not be cut at all, unless you're specifically instructed to do so.

"When you start chopping up pills like that, the pill may not work," she says. "We find more and more people are doing this. And then they say, "Oh, that pill had a really bad taste. That is because they cut away the coating."

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