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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Heroes, one of the scariest things that can happen to our children is drug addiction. What we often fail to realize is that having unsecured prescriptions around the house can be a dangerous practice. More and more children are abusing prescriptions every day. It’s common for them to think that the medicines aren’t dangerous; if a doctor prescribed them they MUST be okay. Right?

Not right. Medications regulated by prescriptions are often very dangerous, especially given that different scripts can interact with one another and kill you.

A woman who I counted as a good friend in high school was killed in the past few years precisely because of a prescription drug interaction. In her case, the doctors and pharmacy didn’t catch it until it was too late.

Did you know that more than 50% of prescription drug abusers 12 and older obtained those prescription drugs from family and friends for free? Further, the number of children under five seen in emergency rooms for medication poisoning related to prescription drug self-exposure has increased dramatically. The holidays bring numerous gatherings and parties, as well as opportunities for guests to acquire medications that are not theirs, including prescription drugs in your home medicine cabinet.

So! Let’s talk about things you can do to keep your kids safe from prescription medications.

For starters, keep your meds locked up. Hubby bought this cute little medicine safe for us. It can be bolted to a shelf, inside a drawer, behind a mirror in a bathroom medicine cabinet, and even a niche in your wall (that option will require cutting into the drywall or plaster).

It may seem like a hassle, but what kind of price will you pay if your child (or a visiting friend) gets into the medications? For those of us with teens who may have friends over while we’re not at home, the thought of someone abusing those meds is more than a little scary.

Second, and equally importantly, please safely discard old or unfinished prescriptions. Your first and best choice is to use the medication as directed of course. But who among us hasn’t failed to finish one and just left it in the cabinet? Those bottles can pile up.

Go to your pharmacy and you may be able to buy for a few dollars a special mailer. CVS stores are supposed to have them, and I also got one at Rite Aid last year. Bring it home, insert the bottles and drop it in the mailbox. The medication will be safely disposed of.

Please do NOT just throw out meds or flush them down the sink or toilet without checking this list. That can actually introduce the meds to the water supply, whether it’s your own local well or the municipal one. In either case, that’s not a good plan.

Alternatively, you can take your meds to one of the National Prescription Drugs Take Back Day. Operated by the DEA, these days promise safe, private disposal of unwanted medications.

Something else you can do: share the Aware RX.org public service announcement on Facebook. Help make sure that friends and family protect against prescription abuse this holiday season.

This post inspired by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation (NABPF) and their AWARXE Consumer Protection Program.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to keep their kids safe from unused prescriptions.