Keep prescription drugs out of reach of visitors


As guests begin arriving for holiday parties and overnight visits, keep in mind the importance of safely storing your prescription drugs. Not only do you want to keep them out of the hands of children, but unfortunately, you must also consider storing them where visiting adults do not have access to them.

Prescription drug abuse continues to rise, especially the abuse of narcotic pain relievers such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin and similar opioid drugs. For people trying to obtain these drugs without a doctor's prescription and guidance, your bathroom and medicine cabinet are the first place they look. Medicine cabinets with locks are now available or you may find a place elsewhere in your home where you can store them safely.

More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids - nearly double in a decade according to the CDC. The most serious risk associated with opioids, including OxyContin, is respiratory depression - slowed breathing. Common opioid side effects are constipation, nausea, sedation, dizziness, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, sweating, mood changes, flushing, loss of appetite and weakness. Taking a large single dose of an opioid could cause severe respiratory depression - slowed or difficulty breathing that can lead to death.

Chronic use of opioids can result in tolerance for the drugs, which means that a person must take higher doses to achieve the same initial effects. Long-term use also can lead to physical dependence and addiction - the body adapts to the presence of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped.

Don't forget to talk to your teen about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. According to the Medicine Abuse Project, nearly 80 percent of teens report they have spoken with their parents about the risks of alcohol and marijuana, but only 14 percent report they have talked with their parents about the misuse of prescription drugs. Nearly half of teens who report they abuse prescription drugs report they got them from their parents' medicine cabinet.

Other prescription medications that may be abused are benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax and medications for ADHD such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Find out more information and helpful tips at The Medicine Abuse Project's website,

You can easily dispose of prescription medicines that you no longer need by dropping them off at the Law Enforcement Center, 107 E. Hampton Ave., during their normal business hours or give them a call at (803) 436-2700.

For help with substance abuse, contact Sumter Behavioral Health Services at (803) 775-5080, or visit the website at