Prescription drug abuse is common in today’s society. Although many people use such drugs responsibly, anyone can abuse prescriptions if it’s accessible easily. In fact, a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) has found that 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain killers got them from friends or family members.
Prescription drugs are widely abused across the United States, and many people inadvertently contribute to this problem by failing to properly store or dispose of their medications. During the holidays, many people host parties and celebrations. Friends and family who frequently visit have access to many places in your house where prescription drugs might be stored. In order to prevent someone from abusing your medicines, make sure you take precautions.
Store prescription drugs carefully
It is recommended to not only keep medicines out of reach, but also to lock it. While many may know to keep medicines out of reach of small children, they are not the only ones at risk.
The Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey (PATS) asked over 7,000 adolescents about their attitudes and behaviors toward drug use in 2005. As many as 62 percent responded that people used prescription pain relievers because it was easy to get from a parent’s medicine cabinets. Remove the accessibility of prescriptions by locking and hiding it in a safe place. Medicines should also be kept in the original bottles, which contain important instructions about proper use and possible side effects.
Dispose of prescription drugs properly
Many people forget about old medicine and leave it lying around in cabinets where anyone can access it. It is important to go through your medicines at least once a year to get rid of anything that has expired or is no longer used. Just dumping medicines into the trash makes it easy to find and can even be dangerous to the environment if it leaks into the ground.
There are several ways to dispose of old drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends taking old medicines to community designated locations or following specific disposal information on the bottle. You can call your local police station, trash or recycling collectors as well as local clinics and hospitals to find a location to bring old medicines for safe disposal. If this isn’t an option in your community, you should remove the medicine from the bottles, mix it with other trash and substances to make it unusable and unrecognizable and then place it in a plastic bag incapable of leaking or breaking.
Keep track of your medicines
It can be easy for someone to steal medicine without your knowledge if you don’t keep track of it. A campaign called Lock Your Meds, designed to raise awareness and reduce prescription drug abuse, recommends keeping an inventory of your medications by recording the names and quantity used. Keeping track of medicines and its usage can help prevent abuse or address it when it occurs.
Educate family members
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions and lack of knowledge about prescription drug abuse. The PATS survey found that 35 percent of teenagers thought prescription drugs were safer than illegal drugs, while 32 percent said there were fewer side effects when compared to street drugs. This highlights the extent of the misconceptions surrounding prescription drug abuse among adolescents.
It’s important that all family members are aware that prescription drugs pose real threats to health and safety, especially when combined with other substances such as alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 44 people die every day in the U.S. from an overdose of prescription painkillers alone.
Make sure your family is aware of the consequences of drug abuse in any form, not only the physical consequences. An additional 21 percent of teenagers from the PATS survey thought their parents wouldn’t care as much if they were caught using prescription pain relievers compared to other kinds of drugs. Considering the danger of prescription drug abuse, it is not something that should be taken lightly, and children of all ages should be aware of it.
If you or someone you know is abusing prescription drugs of any kind, it is critical to seek help before serious health consequences result. The addiction specialists at the Prescription Drug Addiction Helpline can provide information and advice on how to take the first step toward recovery. You can call us at 866-623-3847 anytime for help.