Poison and Abuse Prevention

It may seem harmless to have old medication tucked away in a cabinet or drawer, but the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from friends and family and often come from home medicine cabinets. Each day, 2,700 teenagers abuse a prescription drug for the first time. Protect your family.

Proper disposal limits accessibility.

When unused and expired medications remain in your medicine cabinet, they are accessible to nearly anyone that comes into your home.

  • Nationally, an estimated 71,000 children under the age of 18 are seen in emergency rooms each year because of medication poisonings. Over 80 percent of these visits result from an unsupervised child finding and consuming medications.
  • Child resistant packaging is just that - resistant. In fact, children as young as three years old can access "child-proof" caps and packages within 10 minutes. Because some medications look like candy, young children are especially vulnerable.
  • Each day, 2,700 teenagers abuse a prescription drug for the first time. Unfortunately, many of those drugs are found in the home.
  • One in three teens report having a close friend who abuses prescription pain medication to get high, or being offered a prescription or over-the-counter medicine for the purpose of abuse. Ever heard of a "skittles party?" At these parties, teens come together with medications they have acquired, likely from a friend or relative's medicine cabinet, and mix all of the medications together. They then take turns swallowing a handful of medications, often with alcohol. Removing unused and expired medications from your home and keeping those that you do need locked up or under close watch can prevent these types of abuse events from occurring.

The problem can’t be solved by throwing medications in the trash.

Changing the location of these sometimes toxic medications does not change their accessibility. In fact, for those looking to abuse medications or for curious children and pets, the trash can be an ideal, unmonitored location.

Flushing the medication down the toilet is also an issue because the water company does not screen for the medicine’s active ingredients meaning they can show up again in the water supply and the environment.

Learn more about how to dispose of medications safely by exploring our web resources.

Questions?

For questions or more information, contact us at medicationsafety@stlcop.edu.