How to Prevent Medicine Abuse in Your Home: Safe Storage & Disposal
It’s up to all of us to take action against medicine abuse. The best place to start is in your own home by storing medications safely and securely, and by talking with your kids about the dangers of medicine abuse.
Mind Your Meds
Two-thirds of teens and young adults who report abuse of prescription medicine are getting it from friends, family and acquaintances. Make sure the young people in your life don’t have access to any medications in your home. Follow these three steps to monitor, secure and properly dispose of unused and expired prescription and over-the-counter medicine in your home.
Step 1: Monitor
How aware are you of the prescription medications currently in your home? Would you know if some of your pills were missing? From this day forward, make sure you can honestly answer yes.
Start by taking note of how many pills are in each of your prescription bottles or pill packets, and keep track of refills. This goes for your own medicine, as well as for your kids and other members of the household. If you find you need to refill your medicine more often than expected, that could indicate a problem.
If your child has been prescribed medicine, be sure you control its use by monitoring dosages and refills. You need to be especially vigilant with medicine known to be addictive and commonly abused such as opioids (prescription pain relievers), benzodiazepines (sedatives and anti-anxiety medications) and stimulants (ADHD medications).
Make sure your friends, parents of your child’s friends, neighbors and relatives — especially grandparents — are also aware of the risks. Encourage them to regularly monitor the medicine in their homes as well.
Step 2: Secure
Approach securing your prescriptions the same way you would other valuables in your home, like jewelry or cash. There’s no shame in helping protect those items, and the same holds true for your medicine.
Remove prescriptions from the medicine cabinet and secure them in a place only you know about. If possible, keep all medicine, both prescription and over-the-counter, in a safe place, such as a locked cabinet your teen cannot access.
Step 3: Dispose
Safely disposing of expired or unused medicine is critical to helping protect your kids, family and home. And it decreases the opportunity for visitors in your home, like your kids’ friends, to abuse medicine as well.
The ideal way to do this is by participating in a safe drug disposal program – either a drug take-back day, an ongoing program in your community, a drug deactivation bag, or a drug mail-back program. To find a take-back location or event near you, visit the American Medicine Chest Challenge or the DEA website.