Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Medication Safety

Safe Disposal of Medications could Save Lives


Each year in the United States, more than 71,000 children aged 18 and younger are seen in emergency rooms for unintentional overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.1

More than three in five teens say prescription pain relievers are easy to get from parents’ medicine cabinets; half of teens say they are easy to get through other people’s prescriptions; and more than half say prescription pain relievers are “available everywhere.” 2

Medication overdoses are most common among two-year-olds. About one out of every 180 visits an emergency department for a medication overdose each year.2

The most common medications accidentally taken by children are acetaminophen, opioids or benzodiazepines, cough and cold medicines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antidepressants.2

Among young people ages 12-17, prescription drugs have become the second most abused illegal drug, behind marijuana.1

Teens ages 12-17 have the second-highest annual rates of prescription drug abuse after young adults (18-25).1

The most recent research on deaths in the U.S. due to poisoning over a five-year period (1999-2004) shows that nearly all poison deaths in the country are attributed to drugs, and most drug poisonings result from the abuse of prescription and illegal drugs.1

Teens are abusing prescription drugs because they believe the myth that these drugs provide a medically safe high.1

Whether you’re a parent, coach, teacher, or community leader, learn more about how you can do your part to curb teen drug abuse through a hands-on workshop: Maximize your Role as a Teen Influencer: What You Can Do to Help Prevent Teen Prescription Drug Abuse. All the materials which were developed by the National Council on Patient Information and Education along with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) enable and equip role models to present the “Teen Influencer” program to their friends, work colleagues, fraternal or community groups to which they belong can be found free of charge at www.talkaboutrx.org.

Additional Resources on Medication Safety:

Medication Safety – a toolkit for families – protect your family: get the most from your medications

Medication Use Safety Training (MUST) for Seniors™ program is designed as an interactive, national initiative to promote safe and appropriate medicine use by enabling older adults to avoid medication misuse, recognize and manage common side effects, and improve medicine use knowledge, attitudes, and skills to avoid medication errors.

  1. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Teens and Prescription Drugs. Available at http://www.theantidrug.com/pdfs/TEENS_AND_PRESCRIPTION_DRUGS.pdf. Accessed on February 26, 2010.
  2. US News and World Report. Medicines Top Source of Kids’ Poisonings. Available at http://www.usnews.com/health/managing-your-healthcare/ treatment/ articles/2009/08/04/medicines-top-source-of-kids-poisonings.html. Accessed on February 26, 2010.


Additional Articles

If a drug take-back or collection program is not available in your area, please refer to Federal Guidelines from the Office of National Drug Control Policy on the proper disposal of medications.


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