Your Medicine Cabinet Needs a Padlock

You may have seen those dateline nightly TV shows that talk about the dangers of teen drinking. You could have thought that you should put a padlock on your liquor cabinet. The purpose of which is to deny alcohol to your teen while you’re out with your partner on date night. It makes sense you think, this is what all the TV hosts and online articles told you to do. It will protect your children. What If I told you that there’s a second cabinet in your home that also requires a padlock? One that can cause even more harm than that liquor cabinet? Your medicine cabinet.


In your home, everything has a place. You put your jacket on a coat rack, you store your socks into a drawer and your forks in the silverware cabinet. From this logic, you should have a place for your prescriptions. Most people don’t actually keep all their medications in the same place. We don’t normally put a lot of thought in where we keep these controlled substances. Are your pain medications in an easily accessible place? Places like a kitchen cabinet or on a shelf behind your vanity bathroom mirror?

Teen girl buying illegal perception drugs
If your prescriptions are not secure, you may be an unwilling co-conspirator in the trafficking of drugs out of your home and into the hands of teens.

How Big Is The Problem?

10.6% of children ages 12 and over have used illicit drugs in the past month, that’s over 30 million children. These children are not starting off by buying drugs from some guy on the corner, they are taking the prescriptions in there parents medicine cabinets and “trying them out.”

When we sit down with our children to talk about the dangers drugs, we often sidestep the discussion of prescription drug abuse. Maybe we didn’t think it would become such a large scale problem. Many we were just unaware that unprescribed use of prescriptions can be lead to addiction and dependence.

Pie chart breaking down drug abuse trends
More and more people are reporting abuse of prescription drugs more than cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined. 35% of 12th graders said opioid prescriptions were easily access able to them.

 Prescriptions place second, behind marijuana, in illicit drug abuse. Adderall, tranquilizers and prescription opioids are leading the pack. The logical reason for this, is again, access. Teens will experiment with whatever is within reach. If your prescriptions are readily available, your teen may be experimenting with them, which can lead to abusing them.

What can you do as a parent?

Your first step is to limit the possibility of your teen gaining access to any prescriptions. Collect all your loose orange pill bottles by bagging up your expired or unused prescriptions.

Full frame of orange prescription bottles
The retention of incomplete prescriptions in your home can be a big contributor to the problem!

We often keep prescriptions around longer than necessary by thinking, “maybe this will be useful in the future.”

Consider your best option for disposing of your unwanted prescriptions by dropping them off at a local pharmacy participating in a “Take Back” program.  It can be similar to disposing of lithium batteries or car motor oil. You’ll know with confidence that you are limiting the accessibility of drugs. Disposing of these medications safely also means you are helping the environment. Improper disposal techniques such as flushing your prescriptions down the toilet or just throwing them directly into the garbage can potentially contaminate the public water supply.

Make Your Teen Understand

Teen girl looking to camera , mother behind out of focus
Reach out to your teen, understand their point of view

Talk with your child, do not talk at them. Turn it into a conversation in a back and forth dialogue. Discuss why those little orange translucent bottles are even in your home. Explain why you have been prescribed this by a doctor. Clearly define how these prescriptions in a non-medical use can be harmful to their life and development. Ignorance on this subject can lead to a road of experimenting and possibly addiction. Listen to what they have to say. Answer any questions they may have. Having a discussion can help you learn about your child and their views on prescriptions and other drugs.

Familiarize yourself with your teen’s social circle. Even if you have properly secured your active prescriptions, that doesn’t mean your teen isn’t in contact with someone who does have access. Even consider talking to the parents of your teen’s friends. This not only helps protect your children, but also their friends from accessing any prescriptions.

Amatus Health Wants To Help

Do you know someone who has been experimenting or abusing prescription drugs ? At Amatus Health, we are continuously motivated to provide the highest quality of life and recovery to everyone who walks through our doors. With multiple locations throughout Maryland, Georgia, Ohio and New Hampshire, we will help you take the first steps towards wellness. Even when we are unable to get you into an Amatus program, we will find another program that works for you. We are all working towards a common goal, recovery and life after addiction.

If you ready to take the next step, or know someone who is. Give us a call at 972-249-4999.

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