CATAWBA COUNTY— Ninety-five percent of children who abuse prescription drugs do not get them from a stranger, dealer or the Internet, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).
Earlier this year, North Carolina held a summit to discuss the epidemic of opioid abuse and overdoses and how to combat the issue.
One way the public can help, is by locking up their medications.
Lock Your Meds is a statewide initiative with the goal of reducing the number of people who become addicted to prescription medications.
“The entire campaign is supposed to help normalize conversations in families about prescription drugs and encourage responsible adults to lock their medications up,” said Zack King, the community outreach manager for LiveWell Catawba at Catawba County Public Health.
The posters, which have been distributed to schools, libraries and other public places, will remind the community that drug addiction can happen to anyone.
“He gets his music online, his T-shirts at the mall and his drugs from his uncle’s medicine cabinet,” reads one poster, which features a picture of a child no older than 15.
The NCDHHS says one in six teens in North Carolina reports taking a prescription drug without a prescription.
“Any of the young people in our community or any of the people in our community are at risk,” King said.
In addition to keeping medications secure, King said proper disposal of medications is just as important.
Young children and pets can sometimes get into trash cans, and if they were to ingest the medication, they could become ill or even die.
“All of our local sheriff’s offices and police municipalities have medication drop offs in their offices,” King said.
Emily Killian, the community engagement specialist for Public Health, said there are several, cheap and easy ways to lock up medication.
“Vaultz is the company sponsoring the campaign and they’ve given us a limited number of lock boxes to give out for free,” she said.
Vaultz sells several different designs and styles of medicine lock boxes on its website, vaultz.net, with the cheapest box starting at $14.99.
Amazon also offers medicine lock boxes.
“I know of some people who use a cash box or a filing cabinet to secure their meds,” Killian added. “As long as they have a container they can secure with a key or code, it’ll work.”
While locking up medications is a great start, King and Killian urge families to have those tough conversations with their children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and how it’s not OK to share medication with someone or accept medication that you don’t have a prescription for.
Since supplies are limited and Public Health expects them to go quickly, they’re planning to give parents top priority.