Silver Hill Encourages Families to Lock Up All Medications

Teenagers are the greatest risk group for prescription and over the counter drug abuse. Take steps to ensure your children – and their friends – are not abusing.

If you think only homes with young children need to be concerned about locking up their medications, you are wrong. While it is essential to lock them up if you have young children, this is not the group at the highest risk: the group most likely to misuse and abuse your prescription and over the counter (OTC) medications is teenagers.

Drugs in medicine cabinets are an easy source

Even if you cannot conceive of your own child stealing from your medicine cabinet or lifting from your briefcase, think about their friends. Prescription drugs are the number one choice for drugs of abuse among 12–13 year olds. One in seven teens admits to abusing prescription drugs to get high in the past year­ and a staggering 70 percent of this group gets their prescription drugs from friends and family. Only 4.7 percent go to a stranger, drug dealer or the Internet.

Prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions. If your child is talking about skittles, they are not talking about that colorful sugar coated candy. Instead, it means that prescription drugs grabbed from somewhere will be put in a pile, and each friend will try a handful. Kibbles is not dog food, it’s that commonly available drug Ritalin. Pancakes and syrup refers to combining a sedative with cough syrup.

Adolescents seem to believe that medications prescribed by a doctor or available OTC are a “medically” safe high. But this is just one of the tragic myths that prevail and their relatively low cost and easy availability contribute to these sobering statistics:

  • 2.1 million teens abused prescription drugs in 2006
  • 3.1 million teens abused OTC cough medications to get high at least once
  • 2 in 5 believe that prescription drugs are “much safer” than illegal drugs
  • 3 in 10 believe that prescription pain relievers are not addictive
  • Sixty percent of teens who abused prescription pain relievers did so before the age of 15


According to the Center for Disease Control, prescription drugs, including opioids and antidepressants, are responsible for more overdose deaths than “street drugs” such as cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines. And while data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows there has been a marked decrease in the use of some illegal drugs, the same survey also shows that prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem.

Locking up medications is the best prevention

This is why fully supports the efforts of the National Family Partnership and Lock Up Your Meds Day on Oct. 27. Go to their website and you will find fact sheets, kits to take to school and guidelines to help you determine if your child is abusing. You can also download an inventory card to take stock of all prescription and OTC medications in your house, as well as information about how best to lock them up.

Be sure to dispose of unused and expired medications to keep them from falling into the wrong hands, but don’t pour down the sink or flush in the toilet as this can cause environmental harm. Instead, go to the   Any local pharmacy can also take back  unused or expired medications.

Your nightstand, medicine cabinet, briefcase, pocketbook, glove compartment or kitchen counter may be serving as the personal drug dealer for you child and their friends. The consequences of not dealing with this epidemic are heartbeaking. Each parent must take responsibility and lock up or monitor all medications. The best way to end addiction and all of its ensuing problems is to keep it from starting in the first place.

Lilit Karayan, Doctor of Pharmacy
Silver Hill Hospital


Silver Hill Hospital’s blog is intended only to provide information; it is not intended to provide diagnosis or treatment. If this is an emergency, please call 911.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sigurd Ackerman, MD October 27, 2011 at 09:00 PM
To locate a pharmacy that will accept unused medications, visit disposemymeds.org
Michael Kennedy October 27, 2011 at 11:01 PM
Yes it is important to lock your medicine cabinet with kids around, but also be careful of workers in the home. Recently, one of our clients had a problem with a employee stealing prescription opiates while working in local homes and reselling it on the street, as well as using for his own addiction. The Wilton Police will take all unused prescriptions at the station and this weekend is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” on October 29, 2011 - www.dea.gov for more informaton.
Siwanoy October 28, 2011 at 04:11 PM
And to think, we take such an aggressive stance on marijuana of all things.
David Knauf October 28, 2011 at 05:04 PM
The Darien Health & Police Departments are co-sponsoring an unwanted drug collection/disposal day this Saturday, October 29 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Town Dump on Ledge Road. This is a FREE event and totally anonymous, no questions asked........it's easy - just drive through and drop off! So clean out those medicine cabinets and safely dispose of unwanted drugs and medications!
Fairfield County Mom October 29, 2011 at 11:36 AM
I was just thinking the same thing. Prescription drugs are so much worse. This country loves to pop pills. I wouldn't pop an opiate if you paid me. Never have, never will.


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