Monitor your meds: Preventing medication abuse

You might think prescription drugs are safer than illegal narcotics. Think again. In 2013, more people died of overdose from prescription painkillers than from illegal drugs. 

But overdoses are only part of the problem. For everyone who dies from prescription drug abuse, there are 130 addicted users and 825 more who are on their way to addiction by abusing pills for nonmedical reasons.

The problem is skyrocketing, and teens are especially vulnerable. One study showed that one in four teens misused prescription drugs at least once. And most of those teens report getting the drugs from friends and family.

Safeguard your meds
Would you know if some of your pills were missing? More than four in 10 teens who abused prescription drugs say they took it right out of their parent’s medicine cabinet.

Keep track of your prescriptions to monitor for problems. Hide your medication and, if feasible, keep it in a locked safe box. Talk to your family members, especially grandparents, and encourage them to hide their medications as well.

Dispose of unused drugs
One way to avoid theft is to get rid of unneeded prescription drugs. You can throw them away or, better yet, take them to a drug take-back site. Your local police or pharmacy may have a secure drop box for unused prescriptions.

If you throw your pills away, take them out of the bottle and mix them with kitty litter or other refuse to make them unappealing. Don’t flush drugs (unless the package says otherwise). 

Talk about it
Finally, talk with your kids about the dangers of addiction to prescription medication. In the short term, overdosing or mixing medication with alcohol can be fatal. In the long term, misusing medication can lead to a lifetime of dependency and heartache.