Teen Prescription Drug Abuse Prompts Calls for Medicine Cabinet Locks, Drug Disposal

Teen abuse of prescriptions drugs is on the rise. Unlike illicit drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine, the drugs often come from a place very close to home; parents’ medicine cabinets. Parents are often shocked to discover that narcotics from their medicine cabinets found their way to teen parties and ended up in fatal drug “cocktails”. According to the National Family Partnership, only five percent of teens that abuse prescription drugs get them from a stranger, drug dealer or the Internet. To minimize the risk of teens obtaining prescription drugs at home, the Partnership suggests locking up prescription drugs, conducting regular inventories of pill amounts and properly disposing of old medications.

On February 9, 2010, a Wisconsin teen died after overdosing on oxycodone (generic OxyContin). One area resident is fed up with teen prescription drug abuse and asserts that dangerous narcotics must be kept under lock and key in order to combat the problem; he claims that no other remedy would be as effective. To this end, Ken Kidder has begun a drive that would require locks to be installed on medicine cabinets in family homes.

Kidder’s interest in combating drug addiction stems from personal experience. His son, Greg, died at age forty-four and had battled drug addiction for most of his adult life. He started experimenting with drugs at age 13.

Coincidentally, Kidder is particularly qualified to discuss securing medicine cabinets. A tree cutter by trade, Kidder is also a master woodworker. He claims that installing medicine cabinet locks is simple, as most cabinets can be secured by using a power drill and insertable locks. The 69-year-old activist has volunteered to give area residents demonstrations on how to install the locks. Kidder has also raised one hundred dollars for the “cabinet lock-up” cause, in conjunction with a local Boy Scout troop. He used the money to buy six keyed locks at a local hardware store, which he will install for free for families with limited resources. Going forward, Kidder hopes to join forces with local building contractors, school districts, police departments and volunteer organizations to develop a community-wide cabinet lockup program.

The idea of a locking medicine cabinet is not entirely new. A Google search reveals locking medicine cabinets already being sold on Amazon.com and Linens ‘n Things. With a price tag of $180, Blomus’s attractive glass and steel locking medicine cabinet is imported from Germany and would blend seamlessly in any modern bathroom.

Prescription Drugs Must Be Disposed of Properly to Avoid Tragedy

While it is important to properly secure prescription drugs that are currently being used by family members, it is equally important to conduct a periodic review of medicine cabinet contents to identify out-dated or unnecessary prescriptions. Unfortunately, once the drugs are identified it is not entirely clear what should be done with them as flushing them into the water supply often causes residual levels of narcotics to remain in recycled drinking water. To address the disposal issue, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has started a novel prescription drug take-back program in twenty-six locations around the state. Residents can bring their old or unused prescription drugs to the location and law enforcement officials will take custody of the controlled substances and dispose of them safely.