February is National Safety Awareness Month

Safety risks: Addition in the Home

There are many areas that we should review for home safety, but today, we will discuss the overlooked risks of addiction in your home.

The danger of becoming dependent on pills is nothing new to those prescribed medication. If you’ve ever had a root canal or have trouble sleeping, the bottles you pick up from the pharmacy are plastered with warnings about overuse. Indeed, addiction to prescription medication is a growing problem in the United States and other industrialized nations, eclipsing more notorious substances such as heroin or cocaine. Even worse, use and abuse among adolescents is on the rise.

It’s a troubling state of affairs, and understandably has parents alarmed about the threats to their children as well as themselves. But it’s important to have a grasp on the particular ins and outs of the various medication most likely to be abused at home. According to this post on the Black Bear Rehab website, it becomes clear there’s more risk for abuse in the medicine cabinet than most parents may realize. Addiction requiring the attention of specialists in an isolated setting can originate by abusing even the most seemingly innocent of medications.

Here’s a quick rundown of the four most commonly abused drugs and their forms most likely to show up at home:

Stimulants (Uppers)

Drugs in this category cause the user to feel an uptick in energy. Abuse can lead to a sense of euphoria, followed by mood swings and aggression when the brain isn’t getting its familiar dosage. Amphetamines such as Adderall are the more notorious stimulants likely to be found in the home – in the right dose uppers can improve focus and increase productivity greatly and thus are prescribed accordingly. But caffeine found in coffee, soda pop, and over-the-counter is also a stimulant, and is the most used one in the world.

Depressants (Downers)

Medication meant to calm and reduce stress come in all sorts of prescribed shapes and sizes, making them a frequent sight in household medicine cabinets. These drugs can also lead to sedation and impaired motor skills. Barbiturates are far less common than in decades past, but continue to be prescribed for sufferers of epilepsy, severe migraines, and cluster headaches. Benzodiazepines have greatly replaced barbiturates, and come under such names as Valium, Xanax, and Ambien. These brand names are practically synonymous with prescription pill abuse and addiction, especially by adolescents.


Another class of drug almost better known for its addictive nature than its positive impact on health is opioids. These medications, commonly known as Oxycontin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, numb nerves and help patients tolerate pain. Abuse can lead to dizziness and drowsiness and possibly cardiac arrest if the addiction becomes too rampant. Commonly prescribed after routine procedures such as dental work, opioids are easily accessible in most American homes at one time or another.

Cold and Flu Medicine

Many prescription and over-the-counter medicines designed to fight the symptoms of colds and flu have one thing in common: Dextromethorphan as the primary ingredient. These product names include Robitussin, Vicks, and Sudafed. Dextromethorphan is frequently abused by adolescents seeking hallucinations and an “out-of-body experience” associated with large doses. The risk here is how common these products are in the home – far more common than any of the aforementioned. Making sure these basic sources of relief of cold and flu symptoms stay out of the hands of curious kids is an important part of preventing further drug abuse and addiction down the road.

Most of us know how dangerous prescription drugs can be, whether through pop culture, education, or personal experience. But when pressed, many folks aren’t able to name more than just a couple of drugs by-name which present the greatest risk of abuse and addiction. In addition, many people are unaware of the risks associated with seemingly harmless medications commonly found in the household. Knowing the basics of these potentially dangerous drugs can be the difference between a problem and a proactive solution.

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