Home Safety Week: Danger in your medicine cabinet


Did you know – one of the most dangerous rooms in your home could be your bathroom?  It’s all because of what you might have stored in your cabinets.

There are pills in a rainbow of colors sitting, treating any number of conditions, sitting in medicine cabinets across mid-Michigan right now.

Experts, like Michigan OPEN (Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network) volunteer Stephany Moser, say those pills can put you, your family and friends, in danger.

“Medications that are left in homes are at risk for being misused,” said Moser.

Expired pills could make you sick if you take them. But more than that, medicine cabinets are a target for addicts. Law enforcement officers say two-thirds of opioid users get their fix from the shelves of people they know.

“If somebody is addicted to narcotics and it’s prescription, that’s an easy way for access for them to get it,” said Michigan State Police Sgt. Brian Oleksyk.

According to the National Safety Council, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for people age 25 to 64. Most of those overdoes involve heroin and opioids.

Moser says many people don’t want left-over pills in their home. Fran LaRosa is one of them. She was prescribed pain pills after surgery.

“It’s like, they really give you way too many and I don’t want to get addicted to them so I stopped taking them after a few days,” said LaRosa.

But Moser says many, like LaRosa, don’t know how to get rid of the meds so they sit on the shelf.

“They don’t want to flush them down the toilet and they don’t want to throw them away,” said Moser. “They’re really unsure of what to do.”

That’s where drug take-back programs come in. Many have started in communities across the state, from the official National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, efforts by pharmacies, to a new approach: a mobile pill drop off at high school football games, sponsored by the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department and the Lansing Police Department

“It’s a way to prevent kids from having access to these pills,” said Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth. “The more we can do as a community, as law enforcement, as first responders to have this prevention piece, I think the better off we all are.”

Many, like LaRosa, jumped at the chance to safely toss her meds.

“I don’t want to have those around at my house,” she said. “I’ve got grandchildren, not that they would even get into them but I just don’t want them so I’m glad that we had an opportunity to get rid of them.”

For those spear-heading the drug take back initiative, like Moser, it can be personal.

“I work with Michigan OPEN but I also live in Jackson and Jackson has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic,” she said.

If you have unused pills in your medicine cabinet, experts encourage you to find a drop-off and get rid of them, for your safety and the safety of those you love.

For a list of available drop-offs, check out this map on the Michigan OPEN website: http://michigan-open.org/takebackmap/

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