7 Ways to Safeguard Your Medicine Cabinet

  • pills
    Beware the drug dangers at home
    Big boys. Chill pills. Tranqs. Skittles. Your teen may get all these drugs—and more—not from the street, but from your own home. They're slang terms for prescription and over-the-counter medications, which a disturbing number of young people are using to get high. Take these steps to protect your child.
  • man looking at medication in front of medicine cabinet
    1. Take inventory
    Document and track the prescription and over-the-counter medicines in your home. Keep lists of the number of pills in each bottle or pill packet. Pay close attention to drugs that are commonly abused, including Adderall and other stimulants, Vicodin and other painkillers, and cough and cold medicines containing dextromethorphan.
  • teens-sharing-pills
    2. Control your child's medicine
    At some point, your teen will likely need a prescription or an over-the-counter medicine to treat an illness. Monitor the dosage and get the refills yourself. When it comes to cough medicine, be suspicious if your teen asks for it after symptoms subside or outside of cold and flu season.
  • involve the family
    3. Involve the family
    Talk with other relatives who either spend time in your home or frequently host your teen. This includes grandparents, who may take more medications. Tell them of the risk for prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse and make sure they track and monitor the medicines in their house.
  • lock
    4. Secure your valuables
    You lock up jewelry, cash, and other treasures for safekeeping. Treat medicine the same way. Store all drugs in a place only you know about. If possible, lock them in a drawer or cabinet so your teen doesn't have access. Encourage parents of your teen's friends to do the same.
  • teen, teenagers, group of teens, happy
    5. Discard carefully
    Teens may be tempted to retrieve expired or unneeded medications from the trash. And flushing them down drains or toilets may harm the environment. Instead, mix unused pills with an undesirable substance like kitty litter. Put them in an empty bag or can and dispose of them when your child isn't home.
  • medicine cabinet
    6. Protect your privacy
    When you do dispose of prescription drugs, take care to remove or destroy personal information on labels. This prevents anyone—including your teen—from obtaining unauthorized refills.
  • couple receiving advice
    7. Ask questions
    If you notice medications missing from your home, find telltale packaging in your teen's room or belongings, or notice that he or she is still using medicine after feeling better, start a conversation. Let your child know you're concerned, not angry, and that you want to help.
7 Ways to Safeguard Your Medicine Cabinet

About The Author

  1. Marijuana Use Continues to Rise Among U.S. teens, while Alcohol Use Hits Historic Lows, National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan (http://monitoringthefuture.org/pressreleases/11drugpr_complete.pdf);
  2. Teen Culture: The Lingo, Partnership for a Drug-Free America (http://notinmyhouse.drugfree.org/cultural_lingo.aspx);
  3. What to Do: Three Steps, Partnership for a Drug-Free America (http://notinmyhouse.drugfree.org/What_to_do_3steps.pdf);
  4. How to Dispose of Unused Medicines, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm101653.htm);
  5. Intervention Strategies, American Academy of Pediatrics (http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/pages/Intervention-Strategie...;
  6. Dextromethorphan (DXM), Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of National Drug Control Policy (http://www.justthinktwice.com/drugs/dextromethorphan_dxm.html);
  7. Dextromethorphan (DXM), The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign (http://www.theantidrug.com/drug-information/otc-prescription-drug-abuse/over-the-counter-drug-abuse/...;
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Last Review Date: 2021 Aug 16
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.