In 2009, 3.9 billion prescriptions were filled in the U.S., with an average of 12 prescriptions per person over the course of the year.1
70 percent of people 12 and older who abuse pain medicines say they get them from a friend or relative.2
More than two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed indicated that they keep Rx medicine in an unlocked cabinet, closet or drawer in their household.3
Almost 50 percent of high school seniors say stimulants are "fairly easy" or "very easy" to get, and nearly 40 percent say the same thing about prescription pain medicines known as opioids.4
1 in 3 teens say they know someone who abuses prescription medicine.5
How much do you know about storing and safeguarding prescription medicine? Take this short quiz to find out.
If there are no teenagers living in the house, you don’t need to worry about protecting prescription medicine.
Even people who live alone or do not have children or young adults living in their households should safeguard their medicine, since people age 12 and older who abuse pain medicine say they get it from a friend or relative.2
The best place to keep medicine is in the bathroom medicine cabinet.
The bathroom medicine cabinet is NOT a good place to store prescription medicine — the changes in heat and humidity in bathrooms can damage it. Instead, you should store medicine in a cool, dry place.6 Medicines with abuse potential — such as strong pain medicine and stimulants — should be locked in a storage container, drawer or cabinet.
It’s OK to share prescription medicines because they have been tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Any prescription medicine is safe only for the person for whom it was prescribed and when taken as directed. Never take medicine that was not prescribed for you and never share your medicine with others.
You only have to worry about safeguarding prescription medicine — not over-the-counter medicine.
Over-the-counter medicine can be hazardous to both children and adults if taken in the wrong quantities or if taken by someone it wasn’t intended for. Therefore, all prescription and over-the-counter medicines should be stored in ways that prevent accidents or abuse.
I’m safeguarding my medicine by putting it in a container that does not include my identity.
Medicine should be stored in the original container provided at the pharmacy — the label on the bottle provides important information such as who it is prescribed for, the name of the medication, the proper dose, the date it was dispensed, when to refill it, and when it expires.
Vorcik L. Storing Medicines Safely. National Institutes of Health, Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia. Updated March 14, 2009. Available at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007189.htm . Accessed August 17, 2010.