One of the biggest contributing factors to prescription drug abuse is the easy accessibility. For most teens it is as simple as opening the medicine cabinet. There are some easy steps adults can take to make it more difficult for teens to acquire prescription medications:

  1. Ask your pharmacist if any of your prescriptions are a risk for addiction or abuse.
  2. Lock up prescription medications in a cabinet, drawer or medicine safe out of the reach of children and pets.
  3. Store medicine in its original containers. The label contains important information about dosage, side effects and expiration dates.
  4. Keep an inventory list of all of the prescription medications in your house. Do a periodic check (at least twice a year) to see if any medications are missing or expired.
  5. Keep medicine in a cool, dark place to maintain the integrity of the medicine.
  6. Check with your pharmacist or local law enforcement about proper drug disposal and drug take-back events.
  7. Don’t share prescription medications with other members of the household. Children mimic behavior of adults. If they see you sharing medications with other adults in the household, teens will assume it is safe for anyone to take them.

Safely disposing of expired or unnecessary medication is a vital part of curbing addiction to prescription drugs. The safest, most recommended method for disposing of medication is community drug take-back events.

If there is not a take-back event, disposing of medication in the trash is recommended, only if the following precautions are taken:

  1. Keep the medication in its original container and add water.
  2. Add something unpalatable and non-toxic to the container, such as kitty litter or cayenne pepper.
  3. Scratch out all of the information on the label. Make sure all personal information is unreadable.
  4. Seal the cap of the bottle with duct or packing tape.
  5. Place bottle in a durable container that hides the contents such as a cardboard box, and seal it with duct or packing tape.
  6. Throw away in your household trash container.
  7. If your prescription came with specific disposal instructions make sure to follow the directions.
  8. If you are disposing of medication in a bubble pack wrap it in multiple layers of duct tape before discarding.

It is no longer recommended that you flush any medications down the toilet or sink. Sewage systems cannot remove these substances from water released into lakes, rivers and oceans which means they can end up in your drinking water.