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Not In My House: Protecting Your Kids

April 5, 2013  |  Falmouth Enterprise

By Dr. Michael Bihari

This article is based on a fact sheet from The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Almost 1 in 5 Kids Have Abused Prescription Medicines

The Bad News

Every day, more than 2,500 teenagers use a prescription medication to get high for the first time. Most teens who abuse prescription drugs get them in the comfort of their home; it can be as easy as opening a cupboard, drawer, or medicine cabinet.

The Good News

As a parent there are steps you can take to help protect your kids from prescription drug abuse: monitor, secure and dispose.

Some Disturbing Facts

For many teens, their desire to get high outweighs their perception of the risks.

  • 12 to 17 year olds abuse prescription meds more than they abuse ecstasy, crack/ cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined.
  • 70 percent of teens who abuse prescription drugs say they get them from family members and friends.
  • Prescription medicines are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12 to 13- year-olds, slightly more than marijuana
  • The drugs teen abuse today are more potent and dangerous than drugs of the past.
  • There has been a dramatic increase in the number of poisonings and even deaths associated with the abuse of prescription drugs.


As a parent, you are in the best position to immediately help reduce your teen's access to prescription medications because most often these drugs are found in your home.

But how aware are you? Would you know if some of your pills were missing? Starting now, make sure you can honestly answer, 'yes.'

  1. Start by taking note of how many pills are in each of your prescription bottles or pill packets.
  2. Keep track of your refills. This goes for your own medication, as well as for your teens and other members of the household. If you need to refill your medication more often than expected, that could indicate a problem.
  3. If your teen has been prescribed a drug, make sure to control the medication, and monitor dosages and refills, especially for medications used to treat ADHD or pain.
  4. Make sure your friends and relatives – especially grandparents – are also aware of the risks. Encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicine cabinets.
  5. If there are other households your teen has access to, talk to those families as well about the importance of helping safeguard their medications.



Teens abuse prescription drugs because they are easily accessible, and either free or inexpensive. As noted above, 70 percent of kids age 12 to 17 who have abused pain relievers say they got them from their friends or relatives, typically without their knowledge. Secure your prescription drugs the same way you would other valuables in your home, such as jewelry or cash.

  1. Take prescription medications out of the medicine cabinet and hide them in a place only you know about.
  2. If possible, keep all drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, in a safe place, such as a locked cabinet your child cannot access.
  3. Tell relatives, especially grandparents, to lock their medications or keep them in a safe place.
  4. Talk to the parents of your teenager's friends. Encourage them to secure their prescriptions.



Safely disposing expired or unused prescription medications is a critical step in helping protect your teens. Here's how to help safeguard your family and home, and decrease the opportunity for your teens or their friends to abuse your medications.

  1. Take an inventory of all the prescription drugs in your home. Start by discarding expired or unused prescription drugs, when your teens are not home.
  2. Some teens will retrieve discarded prescription drugs from the trash. To help prevent this from happening, mix the medication with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. Put the mixture into an empty can or bag and discard.
  3. To protect our local environment, do not flush medication down the drain or toilet.
  4. To help prevent unauthorized refills and protect your and your family's privacy, remove any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles or pill packages before you dispose of them.

The best way to dispose of unwanted drugs in Falmouth is to drop them off at the drug disposal kiosk in the lobby of the Falmouth Police Department. The drop- box is available 24/7; you do not have to sign, give your name, or answer any questions.


MedlinePlus-Prescription Drug Abuse: Access to in-depth information about non-medical use of prescription pills.

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