Amongst the gift-giving and good cheer, how much attention are you giving to medication safety this holiday season?
It’s probably not much.
After all, you’ve got a calendar full of parties, events, shopping, wrapping, baking, traveling, and more. But, despite your packed holiday schedule, the holiday season is one of the most critical times of year to focus on medication safety in your home.
Here are three reasons to lock your meds over the holidays:
1. You’ve Got Guests
It’s very likely the number of people in and out of your home increases during the holiday season — and with it comes an increased chance that someone could find a bottle of painkillers, anti-anxiety medication, ADD medication, or other potent prescription drugs.
Prescription drug misuse, or using a prescription drug in a manner other than it was intended, is the most common form of illicit drug use in the U.S.
According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in the last year:
- 9.3 million adults misused prescription pain killers
- 6.2 million adults misused a prescription tranquilizer or sedative
- 3.3 million adults misused a prescription stimulant
Not all prescription drug misuse is an attempt to “get high.”
Many people misuse prescription drugs in an attempt to relieve pain, sleep better, ease anxiety, stay alert, or to help with feelings and emotions.
The majority of youth who experiment with prescription drugs for the first time obtain these drugs from family members or a friend’s family member without consent.
When your friends or relatives are in your home, is it easy for them to find your prescriptions? Leaving unsecured pain relievers, sedatives, or stimulants in easy-to-access locations, like the bathroom or kitchen cabinets, makes it easy for a guest to take one or two pills silently without your knowledge.
Locking medications securely with a medication locking device protects your medications and prevents you from being an unwitting supplier to a pill-seeking guest.
2. The Kids are Out of School
The majority of schools are closed for approximately 2-3 weeks over “winter break” in the U.S. Which means your kids (or grandkids) could be spending much more time inside your home during the holiday season.
When cold weather keeps kids stuck inside seeking entertainment — what are they finding?
Even if you don’t have prescription drugs in the house, securing over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be a good idea during winter break.
Over 3 million people over the age of 12 have reported using cough and cold medications to get high. Most cases of dextromethorphan abuse called into poison control centers involved 15- and 16-year olds. Dextromethorphan is the main ingredient in over 120 OTC cold-and-cough medications that can lead to psychedelic effects similar to ketamine and PCP when abused.
Securing OTC medications in a medication lock box can help keep your kids safe and protect their friends who may be at your home from accidental or intentional OTC abuse.
3. You’re Traveling
One in three Americans will travel over the holiday season.
That means taking your prescription medications with you: through crowded airports, on buses, trains, or the road.
Prescription medication theft can happen anywhere.
Staying at a hotel?
Baggage handlers, house cleaning, maintenance staff, and any number of people could have access to your medications.
Staying with family?
Relatives, house cleaners, babysitters, landscapers, and neighbors you’ve never met could all have access to the house you’re visiting.
While a locking medication device isn’t a sure-proof way to protect against theft, it certainly could be a deterrent. Anyone rifling through your bag in a hotel room or airport is looking for ease of access to valuable items, like prescription medications. If your travel medications are secured in a lock box or locking medication cap, your prescription medications suddenly lose their attractiveness to potential thieves.
Take Action: Protect Your Family Over the Holidays
It’s easy to think: “not my kids, not my family, not my home,” when it comes to medication abuse and theft.
But the statistics tell a different story.
Because every day, someone’s kid, neighbor, friend, or family member misuses a medication — often for the very first time.
It may be because of peer pressure, boredom, or misinformation about the dangers of prescription meds.
It may be because of a real desire for the medication’s effects: to kill pain, relieve holiday anxiety, sleep better, or to ease symptoms of a cough or cold.
During the holiday time, distractions are at an all-time high. It’s hard to be vigilant when the calendar is crammed full of events and parties. It’s hard to keep an eye on medications and valuables when friends, family, and neighbors are coming in and out of your house, your kids are out of school, or when you’re traveling.
But it’s easy to lock your meds.
Secure your prescription and OTC medications with a locking device this holiday season and you can give yourself the best gift: peace of mind that your family and loved ones are protected against medication misuse and abuse.
This blog post was updated on Dec 05, 2021, to reflect current abuse statistics.