dahlia in my garden: Rio Fuego in Coleus leaves

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Holiday Rx Safety: Protect Your Loved Ones by Safeguarding Your Medications

The holidays are filled with family, friends, faith, food, fun, and festivities. We as pain patients have a particular responsibility to protect our loved ones - we need to safeguard our medications to prevent any thefts or tragedies. With many people visiting our homes for celebrations, we must take precautions.

Last year, a friend of mine had her ex-husband over for dinner. After what she said was a surprisingly nice evening, he spent a rather long interval in the bathroom and then immediately left. She thought nothing of it until later, when she went to the medicine cabinet and found he had stolen every Vicodin pill he could find. Thank goodness she still had some stored in a safer location so she could keep on her dosing regimen.

Unfortunately, my friend isn’t the only one leaving her meds so easily accessible. A national survey in 2010 of more than 1,000 adults showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans (94%) understand it is extremely or very important to safely store and dispose of prescription medication, but many are not doing enough to protect those drugs. More than two-thirds (68%) indicated they keep prescription meds in an unlocked cabinet, closet, drawer, or other area. Most frequently, survey respondents said they store medications in the bathroom (53%) and kitchen (49%) — easily within reach in two of the most vulnerable, high-traffic areas.

It could take only one pill to irreparably harm or even kill another person. We have to do the right thing and take precautions. Additionally we really need our meds, and keeping them easily accessible could end up with a theft that leaves us short of pills that we desperately need to treat our health conditions and chronic pain.  

So what can we do? I use a medication safe to keep my prescriptions out of reach from everyone. The website Pain-Topics.org also offers these suggestions:

~ Use a locked storage container for prescription medications at greater risk of being abused, such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and depressants. These drugs are prime targets for theft by anyone who enters your home, so extra precautions should be taken. 

~ Keep ongoing track of all medications with a Medication Inventory Sheet 

~ Take a complete inventory of all prescription medications in your household at least twice a year, such as when you change your clocks in the spring and fall. 

Additional information is available at the website Safeguard My Meds on proper medication storage, including downloadable print, video, and online materials. Visitors are also encouraged to take a “Personal Responsibility Pledge” and make a commitment to always safeguard their prescription medications. 

Don’t let a medicine theft or even worse, the drug overdose of a child, happen on your watch. Take the time to do a little research and planning to secure your meds both for them and for you.

I wish you all a safe & pain-free holiday season!

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