Mind Your Meds
Two-thirds of teens who report abuse of prescription medicine are getting them from friends, family and acquaintances. Make sure the teens in your life don’t have access to your medicine. Follow these three steps to find out how to monitor, secure and properly dispose of unused and expired prescription and over-the-counter cough medicine in your home.
Step 1: Monitor
Parents are in an influential position to immediately help reduce teen access to prescription medicine because medicine is commonly found in the home. But how aware are you of the quantities that are currently in your home? Think about this: 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 teens 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 teen has been prescribed a medicine, be sure you control the medicine, and monitor dosages and refills. You need to be especially vigilant with medicines that are known to be addictive and commonly abused by teens, such as opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants.
Make sure your friends, parents of your teen’s friends, neighbors and relatives — especially grandparents — are also aware of the risks. Encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicines in their own homes.
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.
Take prescription medicine out of the medicine cabinet and secure them in a place only you know about. As mentioned previously, if your teen has been prescribed a medicine, be sure you control the medicine and monitor dosages.
If possible, keep all medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, in a safe place, such as a locked cabinet your teen cannot access. Spread the word to other households that teens may have access to, and encourage them to secure their prescriptions as well.
Step 3: Dispose
Safely disposing of expired or unused medicine is a critical step in helping to protect your teens, your family and home, and decrease the opportunity for your teens or their friends to abuse your medicine. Lake County has a network here.