What Does it Mean to 'Safeguard' Medicine?

What Does it Mean to 'Safeguard' Medicine?

09.25.12 | By Kaelan Hollon

A large part of Drugfree.org's Medicine Abuse Project campaign talks through how to 'safeguard' medicines. In fact, during last night's ivillage Medicine Abuse Project Twitter meetup, Drugfree.org CEO Steve Pasierb had a great tweet about how easy it is - nine easy words! - to remember what to do. "The mantra I try to tell people is: educate (yourself), communicate (to your kids), and safeguard (your medicines)." I love that line, but had further questions personally about what safeguarding medicine really means. Last night I got a tune-up on this point. Ignorantly, I assumed that I was fairly insulated from worrying about whether my medicines are kept safe as I have no children of my own. However, when I came home last night to a townhouse full of contractors unexpectedly hired by my landlord, I realized my medicines were unlocked and eye level as you open my bathroom storage closet, and would have been incredibly easy for someone to steal - a mistake on my part. Medicine Abuse Project has a point; 'safeguarding' is not just a parent's concern, it's for everyone. Drugfree.org explains what 'safeguard' means practically with three simple steps:

Monitor:

"Start by taking note of how many pills are in each of your prescription bottles or pill packets.

Keep track of your refills. This goes for your own medicine, as well as for your teens and other members of the household. If you find you need to refill your medicine more often than expected, that could indicate a problem.

If your teen has been prescribed a medicine, be sure you control the medicine, and monitor dosages and refills. You need to be especially vigilant with medicine that are known to be addictive and commonly abused by teens.

Make sure your friends and relatives - especially grandparents - are also aware of the risks. Encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicines."

Secure:

"Take prescription medicine out of the medicine cabinet and secure them in a place only you know about.
If possible, keep all medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, in a safe place, such as a locked cabinet your teen cannot access.
Tell relatives, especially grandparents, to lock their medicine or keep them in a safe place.
Talk to the parents of your teenager's friends. Encourage them to secure their prescriptions as well."

Dispose:

"Take an inventory of all of the medicine in your home. Start by discarding expired or unused Rx and OTC medicine when your teens are not home.
Unbelievable as it may seem, teenagers will retrieve discarded prescription medicine from the trash. To help prevent this from happening, mix the medicine with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. Put the mixture into an empty can or bag and discard.
Unless the directions on the packaging say otherwise, do not flush medicine down the drain or toilet.
To help prevent unauthorized refills and protect your own and your family's privacy, remove any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles or pill packages before you throw them away.
Learn more about safeguarding and disposing of medicine and find a medicine take-back location near you."

Drugfree.org has a teen-focused website called 'Not In My House', which covers the same topics and outlines how parents can think about talking to their kids. It's worth a check if you've got teens around. And even if you don't, start taking your medicine safety seriously.

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