By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) – It seems like common sense, but there is one area where some parents could use more than a hefty dose: the safe storage of prescription pain medications.

A new study in the Journal Pediatrics shows a frightening percentage of grownups leave their prescribed opioid pain killers on places such as tabletops, nightstands, and counters. And often, not even in the prescribed pill bottle — just plain lying around.

How bad is the problem?

Only about 32 percent of parents with children ages six and younger keep their pain meds up and out of the reach of children in a latched location.

And only 11 percent of parents with kids ages seven-17 keep their medication locked up, which is the recommended way to store prescribed narcotic medication.

In the younger age group, any pill lying around can look like a tasty treat. And you also need to remember that when it comes to pill bottles is that there is only one term that applies: child-resistant, never child-proof.

And for older age groups, research shows the most common source of the first dose of illegal drugs doesn’t come at school or from a dealer, it comes from home. It’s easy to pilfer a pill when it’s just sitting there waiting to be lifted.

Now if you’re wondering if this is a big deal, consider this: the rate of overdoses from opioids in kids has more than doubled nationally in a little over a decade. And the number of deaths from overdoses has more than quadrupled. And talk about close to home — Colorado has an OD rate higher than the national average.

We’re not talking rocket science here. Parenting is certainly hard, and often learned through trial and error — but this is one trial and error that you never want to suffer.

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida


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