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Lock Your Meds: How to Rx-Proof Your Home

June 20, 2014  |  Falmouth Enterprise

Dr. Michael Bihari

One of the goals of the Falmouth Prevention Partnership for 2014 is to “reduce access to prescription drugs by youth.” To accomplish this the Partnership has been involved in a media campaign (including the Risky Business column) to increase public concern for safe keeping of high-risk drugs in the home and safe disposal of unwanted or unused medications in Falmouth, which includes the drug kiosk in the Falmouth Police Department. 

To promote safe management of medications, the Partnership created a “Lock Your Meds” campaign, including printed materials and a slide presentation, which has been shown to more than 200 people.

Although the Risky Business column has featured some of this information during the past several months, with your household likely full of guests this summer, including teenage grandkids, kids home from college, and visiting friends and relatives, it is important to reemphasize what you can do to keep your family and friends safe.

Prescription-Proofing Your Teen

(The following is based on information from the Ohio Drug Free Alliance)

Aside from prescription drug abuse being illegal, it is highly dangerous. Yet 1 in 4 high school students will use a prescription medication for non-medical reasons at least once before graduating. Many teens say prescription drugs are easier to get a hold of than a six-pack of beer and every day about 2,500 teens are abusing a medication for the first time.

So who is supplying our kids with prescription medications? We are – upwards of 70% of teens report obtaining prescription drugs from home, or from other family members or friends.

Prescription-proofing your home is an essential part of preventing teen prescription pill abuse. Here are three simple steps you can take:

SECURE: All medications, including over-the-counter, should be safely stored in a medication lock box. 

MONITOR: It is important to know what’s inside that lock box and to regularly monitor its contents. 

DISPOSE: Properly dispose of your unused or expired medication. The best way is to use the kiosk in the lobby of the Falmouth Police Department on Main Street. It is available 24/7 and is totally anonymous.

By following these three steps, you can prescription-proof your home.  Also, you should  encourage other family members and friends who come in contact with your child or other children, to do the same. 

When it comes to prescription-proofing your children or grandchildren, it is definitely more challenging. No parent can ever say with certainty that their child is not at risk for misusing or abusing prescription drugs, because ultimately, the decision is in your child’s hands. 

You can, however, increase your teen’s chances for making good choices about using (or not using) prescription drugs with these tips:

Know Why Teens Use Prescription (Rx) Drugs: Most teens say they use Rx drugs to get high, treat pain, sleep, stay awake, fit in or do better in school. Interestingly, boys are more likely to abuse Rx drugs to get high, while girls tend to use Rx drugs to stay alert or lose weight.

Know the Common Rx Drugs of Abuse: Teens most commonly abuse prescription pain medication, anti-anxiety or sleep medication, medication to treat ADHD and over-the-counter cough or cold medicine. Take extra care if you store any of these, or similar types of medications in your home.

Dispel Rx Drug Myths: The majority of teens believe Rx drugs are safer than illegal street drugs, but that is not true. Make sure your teen is aware that Rx drugs can be just as (or even more) dangerous, addictive and damaging to a teen’s developing body and mind, as street drugs.

Communicate Regularly: Talk openly and often with your teen about the hazards of Rx drug abuse and be clear about your disapproval of misusing prescription drugs. Ask what your teen knows and wants to know on the topic, and if you don’t have the answer, research it together. When your kid speaks, listen!

Model Behavior: Practice what you preach. What you do, as much if not more than what you say, impacts your child’s future habits and decisions surrounding prescription drugs.

Rx medication abuse remains a significant part of the teen drug problem nationally and locally. You are your child’s first line of defense. Do what you can by eliminating access and availability in your home and by making open and regular communication on the topic of prescription drug abuse a priority. Prescription pills, especially narcotic pain killers, such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Percocet are a gateway to heroin use.

Medication lock boxes are available at most local pharmacies and online.

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