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Why You Should Limit Prescription Drugs in the Home

Steps parents and others can take to limiting access to prescription drugs

In Charlotte, as across the nation, we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic.

Recent data shows that opioids could kill nearly 500,000 people over the next decade in the U.S. as the crisis of addiction and overdose accelerates. In 2015, Mecklenburg County had the highest number of opioid deaths in the state

This epidemic is fueled in part by the easy availability of prescription drugs. Nationally, about 1 in 9 youth aged 12 to 25 have reported using prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription. In Mecklenburg County about 19 percent of high schoolers have reported taking prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in their lifetime. Research has shown that most youth who begin trying prescription drugs for non-medical purposes do so at their home. 

As parents, we can take steps to be part of the solution, limiting access to prescription drugs among anyone who may be in our homes. This includes our own kids, their friends, and other relatives. It may even include other members of our community – whether it be our handyman, the pet sitter, or even our realtor and their clients.

If we have prescription drugs in the home, there are a few easy things we can do to limit access to them and limit the potential for them to be used in ways other than as intended. Here's a few things you can do now:

Proper Use of Medication

The first step is to read the label carefully and use as directed. If you don’t understand the label and dosage, be sure to ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Proper storage

Properly store prescriptions by locking them up. Keep them out of reach of children, pets and out of the medicine cabinet. Lockable medicine cases can be purchased online for as little as $10. 

Proper disposal

Dispose of medications properly. The FDA also lists instructions on its website regarding the safe disposal of medicines. Make sure you follow guidelines for expired, unwanted or unused medicines.

In Mecklenburg County, there are four sheriff’s offices with permanent disposal drop boxes. In addition, several Walgreens and local pharmacies also collect medication. A list of disposal sites can be found here.

Be proactive

Beyond this, there are other steps that parents can take to be proactive in preventing misuse:

  • Educate yourself and your family by learning about the most commonly abused types of prescription medications.
  • Parents: Set clear rules and monitor your child’s behavior to ensure that the rules are being followed.
  • Familiarize yourself with warning signs of a drug problem. If someone you know might have a problem, seek help. There are resources in the community that can assist those in need. 

About Anuvia

Anuvia Prevention and Recovery Center, a private, non-profit organization, was founded in 1958. Anuvia is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, demonstrating that programs are person- and family-centered and promote quality, value and optimal outcomes. Anuvia is an affiliate of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency. Anuvia has served the residents of Mecklenburg County and North Carolina for more than 50 years with community-based alcohol and drug education, prevention, intervention and treatment services.  

Statistics provided by: National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2010. NIDA Infographic; 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results; 2016 State of the County Health Report