Don't Let Painkillers Become Party Favors

70% of people who abuse prescription painkillers get them from friends or relatives.

Tess Benham is senior program manager, prescription drugs, at the National Safety Council

​When the holiday season kicks off, and the parties and gatherings begin, I hope the hosts across the country take the time to clear out their medicine cabinets before putting the turkey in the oven.

It might be a cliché to think about guests rooting around in the medicine cabinet, but like many clichés, there's more than a hint of truth to that. And a survey earlier this year found that about a third of people keep prescription medications around the house, even after they are no longer taking those medications.

All too often, it is access and theft of someone else's medication that leads many first time drug users into prescription drug abuse. Keeping old medications off your shelves can prevent new addictions from being born; 70% of people who abuse prescription painkillers get the drugs from friends or relatives. 

Prescription medications can play a helpful role in a person's health, true, but if not carefully stored, these medications can put your loved ones, pets or a guest at risk of a fatal overdose.  According to Poison Prevention Centers, one pill can kill young children. Topping the list potentially deadly drugs are opioid painkillers, diabetes and heart medications. Keep all your medications up and away and out of sight of children and visitors to your home.

So, as the holidays near, I hope everyone will make a resolution to not be that friend or relative. By cleaning out your cabinets and getting rid of any leftover prescription medications, you make it a bit less likely that one of you holiday guests will carry an abuse problem with them into 2016.

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