Medication Lockboxes; Consider One For Your Home
What is a medication lockbox?
A medication lockbox is a secure and locked container to store your medications in your house. This helps to ensure your medications are only accessible to you by keeping your medications safe from use by others and keeps others safe from the unintended effects of your medications.
Why should I lock up my medications?
Prescription medication safety is a current epidemic in the United States. Young children often mistake medication for candy, and may consume medications if the child has access to them. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 60,000 children end up in the emergency department each year because of accidental consumption of medications. Keeping medications out of reach of curious children and using bottles with child-proof lids will be important to prevent these accidents.
To learn more about protecting young children from accidental medication consumption, visit the CDC website. If you ever think that your child has accidentally consumed medication, contact poison control at (800) 222-1222 immediately.
Prescription medication abuse and misuse are also common problems in many households, with approximately 18 million Americans in 2017 reporting to have misused medications in the past year. Certain prescription medications can cause euphoria or can give you a “high” if you misuse them. There has been a sharp increase in opioid overdose-related deaths in the past decade, with most deaths caused by prescription medications as opposed to street drugs, such as heroin. With the release of newer synthetic opioids (i.e. fentanyl, tramadol), there has been a new spike in opioid overdose deaths starting in 2013 caused by these prescription medications. Securing your medications can reduce the risk of your medications being abused.
In some instances, people with suicidal thoughts will use other’s medications to harm themselves. Suicide has steadily been on the rise in America. Both drug overdoses and suicides have been responsible in decreasing the US life expectancy by 0.1 years since 2016. There were 6698 U.S. deaths in 2016 caused by suicide by poisoning, which includes intentional drug overdose. Suicide by poisoning is responsible for roughly 10% of suicides in males and 30% of suicides in females. Locking away your medications can prevent the use of your medications in a suicide attempt.
Should I get a medication lockbox?
Medication lock boxes are appropriate for people living in households at higher risk of medication misuse. Consider purchasing a medication lock box if:
- You take prescription medications, especially higher risk medications such as opiates (e.g. oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone) or anxiety medications (e.g. alprazolam, lorazepam)
- Your home has small children
- Your home has teens or young adults
- You know someone that has suicidal tendencies/behaviors
- You have a family member on hospice care or who has dementia
Make sure you do not put medications that you may need to use in an emergency into the lock box, such as epinephrine pens, rescue inhalers, or nitroglycerin strips.
What are the different types of medication lockboxes?
These boxes can come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are usually secured by a key or a combination. There are three main types of lockboxes, categorized by their mobility and use:
- Stationary (e.g. bolted to a surface in the house, large and heavy vault)
- Portable (e.g. small box that one can easily relocate throughout the house)
- Travel (e.g. small portable box or bag to take with you while travelling)
The lockbox that is right for you can be dependent on the level of security and portability you desire.
Where can I find a medication lockbox?
The Kelley-Ross Pharmacy at the Polyclinic (904 7th Ave Ste 103 Seattle WA 98104) sells portable lockboxes. Please feel free to give us a call to discuss at 206-324-6990.
You can also find lockboxes at a variety of department stores or online sites. Click on the links below to learn more!
A cash box or any container that can be securely locked can work for medications as well.
What are other ways to prevent medication accidents or misuse?
- Use childproof medication bottle lids.
- Do not share your medications.
- Educate your young children and teenagers about prescription medication misuse.
- Keep track of your medications and occasionally count your high-risk medications.
- Properly dispose of any medications that you are no longer using and do not “save them for next time.” See our video here
What do I do with my unused medications?
There are several places in the King County area to discard of your unused medications:
- Drug disposal drop-boxes in pharmacies (e.g. Kelley-Ross Pharmacy Polyclinic and Eastlake locations) and other locations.
- Some police stations
- Mail-back envelopes
- Semi-annual medication take-back events
Visit the Kelley-Ross website to learn more about why it’s important to properly dispose your medications.
Look for a medication drop-box near you!
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What Is the Scope of Prescription Drug Misuse?” NIDA, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-scope-prescription-drug-misuse.
- “Opioid Overdose.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 Dec. 2018, www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/.
- “Prescription Drugs.” NIDA for Teens, 1 Mar. 2017, teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs.
- “Put Your Medicines Up and Away and Out of Sight.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 June 2016, www.cdc.gov/features/medicationstorage/index.html.
- Scutti, Susan. “US Life Expectancy Drops in 2017 Due to Drug Overdoses, Suicides.” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Dec. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/11/29/health/life-expectancy-2017-cdc/index.html.
- “Suicide.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, May 2048, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml