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What can PARENTS do to protect prescription medications?

by Ned Wicker
(Wisconsin)

Many parents do not have a plan on how to handle prescription medications in their homes to avoid prescription drug abuse by their children. They may rationalize that prescription meds are safe because a doctor prescribed them, or they may make a dangerous assumption and believe that their child would never go into the medicine cabinet and take someone else’s medications. Take the guess work out of it. Parents need to have a plan.

We suggest a family meeting. Sit down with your family and recruit them in a family effort to take complete control over all of the drugs in the house, both prescriptions and over-the-counter medications as well as alcohol.

Discuss the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Most of what we have to offer is common sense, but we often overlook the obvious. We offer these tips to help parents think about what is going on in their homes, and to prevent any possibility of prescription drug abuse by keeping tabs on what is in the house and how much.

1. Inventory

Count the pills. Take an inventory of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications in the house. Do this for every member of the family and be sure to note the number of refills and when those refills should take place. If some medications are being used too quickly, that is a sign. Parents should take charge and control all medications. Have a designated place for medications and control that location. Control measures will go a long way to making sure your needed medication is not being abused.


2. Respect the drugs

Every member of the family needs to understand this important rule: prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs should only be taken in the prescribed amounts and for specified time periods. Drugs should never be taken with alcohol, or in combination with “street” drugs.

If you have a question about your drugs, ask your physician or pharmacist. Here is one more important fact:

more kids abuse prescription meds from their own house than any other drug, with the exception of marijuana.

Teens will take pain killers, diet drugs, anti-depressants, or try others to get “high.” This leads to prescription drug abuse and maybe even addiction.


3. Be savvy

The best way to defeat an enemy is to understand it. Knowing basic facts about prescription medications will help you educate your family about the dangers of abusing those drugs. To find information on prescription medications, go to (link).


4. Set the example

The old “do as I say not as I do” does not work. You need to set the example for your children. Parents who abuse drugs will very likely have children who abuse drugs. If you take the rules seriously and follow proper rules in dealing with medications, you will send the right message to your kid.


5. Update the inventory and toss old medicines

When taking note of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications, be sure to check dates. If a medicine is out of date, or no longer needed, put them in the trash. You need to take the pills out of the bottle and mix them in with something else to conceal them. Don’t flush them down the toilet, as the drugs can get into the water system. You will also want to remove any personal information from the bottles to protect identity.


6. Be a drug safety advocate

Once you’ve made your household inventory and done everything to ensure safety, tell your friends and extended family about what your family has done to protect the kids. We encourage parents to network and have conversations with other parents, to share tips on drug safety in the home, offer help on how others can “clean up the medicine cabinet” and exchange information on how to talk about drugs with your kids.

The best prevention for any possible drug abuse starts in the home with parents taking the lead. Be a proactive parent and know what the schools are doing and how you can reinforce their training.


7. Talk to your kids about prescription drug abuse

Talking with teens can be difficult, but it’s necessary. Be real with them. If you set a rule, follow it. Talk with them, not just at them. Allow your kids to tell you what they are thinking, or how the feel. Hear them out, but be the parent and set the rules. Together you will avoid drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse and addiction is a family problem, not just an individual problem. Families should have a plan on how to avoid having any problems with medications. Moreover, it’s a community problem and therefore people need to work together to prevent it. A good dialog with school administrators, teachers and law enforcement officials is an excellent idea. Again, be proactive.

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"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8






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