Nearly 70 percent of prescription opioid medications kept in homes with children are not stored safely, a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds.
In a national survey of 681 adults who used opioid pain relievers in the past year and had children ages 17 and younger living with them, only 31 percent reported safely storing them away from their children. Among those homes with children 7 to 17 years old, just 12 percent reported safe storage.
The researchers defined safe storage as keeping the medication in a locked or latched place for homes with younger children and a locked place for homes with older children.
The findings appear in the March edition of the journal Pediatrics.
“Our work shines a light on the pervasiveness of unsafely stored opioids in American homes with children,” says study lead author Ms. Eileen McDonald,a faculty member in the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. “Unsafely stored opioids can contribute to accidental ingestions among younger children and pilfering by older children, especially high school students. We know that teens who use these drugs recreationally frequently get them from homes where they are easily accessible, increasing their risk for addiction and overdose.”