You know to lock your doors at night, secure your car, and close your garage. But the thought of putting your medicine cabinet under lock and key might sound ridiculous. It might even sound a bit inconvenient, especially when you think of all the pills you’ve got to take day and night, not to mention those special medicines you were prescribed after surgery, a lingering cough, or bad fall.
But when you realize that someone in your own family might be tempted by the pills or cough medicine you’ve stockpiled and how serious a threat they are when taken by the wrong person in the wrong dosage, you may want to think twice about keeping an eagle eye on your prescription medicine. The reason: someone else may have them in their line of sight--someone you love and trust, like your own child, grandkid, niece, or nephew.
There’s a growing epidemic of overdoses among our young people, who view prescription medicine as safer than street drugs because they are, after all, prescribed by a doctor. This is a myth, and it’s a myth you should debunk with them once and for all. That pain reliever, cough suppressant or stress reducer could actually kill a young person the first time they ingest them or mix them with alcohol.
A study conducted by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission found that overdoses caused by legal prescription drugs were triple the number caused by all illegal street drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, combined. A few years back, more than 2,000 people in Florida died from accidental overdoses of prescription painkillers and well over 700 people died from an overdose of anti-anxiety drugs. The number of deaths from prescription drug overdoses has increased 160 percent in just five years. And here’s another sobering statistic: the use of prescription painkillers among high school students is alarming, with as many as one out of five admitting they’ve used other people’s prescription drugs to get high.
You don’t want to be the unwitting supplier of narcotics for kids. There are ways to protect your prescriptions:
Inventory your medicine cabinets, kitchen cabinets, bureau tops, or anywhere you store medicines. If necessary, monitor the pill quantities and medicine levels in your prescription and OTC drug containers. Put drugs away and out of sight. If you currently need medication, put it in a place where you can get them easily but where your child or others are unlikely to look. If drugs in your house are left over from a previous condition, dispose of them as soon as possible in a safe and effective way.
And here’s a good way to safely get rid of old pills—poor them into a glass cup, soak them in hot water to dissolve them, and then pour them into some kitty litter in a trash bag. Wrap it up, put it in the garbage. And don’t forget to shred the labels.
You have the power to influence a child’s decision to use prescription or even over-the-counter drugs to get high. Information is power and that’s a two-way street. Educate yourself about the problem and share what you learn with someone you love and want to keep safe.
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