On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a shocking new report about buprenorphine, a medication that’s used to treat opioid addiction. The medication has become a popular alternative to methadone in helping recovering heroin addicts, because it induces a lighter feeling of euphoria, and thereby creates an easier withdrawal period, making it harder to become addicted to it or abuse it.
The medication is never prescribed to children under the age of 6, because it poses a significant risk to them. Which is why it’s terrifying that, according to the study, more than 11,200 calls were made to U.S. poison control centers from 2007 to 2016 regarding child exposure to the drug; more than 86% of these calls concerned a child under the age of 6. Almost half of them were admitted to the hospital, and 21.4% experienced “serious medical outcomes.” Seven of them died, including two babies.
In the wake of this shocking news, we’ve compiled here some tips on how to best prevent your children from being exposed to any of your medication, courtesy of Dr. Jason Kane, an associate professor of pediatrics and critical care at University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. So read on, and take note. And for more important knowledge about what’s in your bathroom cabinet, check out The 20 Craziest Side Effects of Common Drugs.
Sign Up for Unit-Dose Packaging
In unit-dose packaging, you get your prescribed dosage of medication when you need it in a bar-coded re-usable container, which means you don’t have bottles filled with pills lying around.
Keep Your Medication Locked Up
Unfortunately, this is especially important to do if you have teens in the house, since opioid addiction among adolescents is on the rise. You can try buying a medicine lock box ($13) that opens with either a key or a particular combination. You might also consider keeping it in a storage closet and installing a doorknob with a lock if it doesn’t already have one.
Child-Proof the Bottles
A lot of medication is kept in bottles that are child-resistant but not necessarily child-proof.
Get Rid of Unused Medication
Don’t just leave bottles of old medication lying around. If you never ended up using up all the painkillers from your last root canal, throw them out. It’s possible you might not even need as much medication as you’d think, either. If you’d like to try some drug-free ways to enhance your mood, check out 10 Drug-Free Ways to Beat Depression.
Stow It Away
Many older adults keep their medication in medication organizers (better known as “pill minders”) to help remind them to take their meds. But a 2017 study found that the presence of a pill minder in the house doubles the risk of accidental medicine poisoning in a child.
With our busy lives, we all tend to leave our medication somewhere where we can easily see it, whether it’s in the medicine cabinet, on the kitchen table, or even by our beds. But, unfortunately, if you can easily see it, your children can easily get to it. Which is why it’s much better to keep your medication safely hidden somewhere that is out of reach, and to instead set a reminder on your phone to ensure that you take it when necessary.
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