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April 15, 2014

Prescription Drug Addiction and Accidental Poisoning

As part of the 2014 Pharmacy Awareness Week, Uniprix is proud to support the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec  campaign on prescription drug abuse in teens.

While young children accidentally overdose on drugs they find in the family medicine cabinet, one in eight adolescents takes prescription drugs to get high. And 70 percent of these teens only had to look to their bathroom medicine chest to find the drugs.1 Did you know?


Medications are the main cause of poisoning in children, outranking household products and cleaning supplies.  Parents are aware of the danger, since 98 percent of them feel that all medications should be stored under lock and key. Yet, 50 percent keep them in an unlocked medicine cabinet.

Other substances commonly found in our homes can also be toxic for children. These include beauty products, such as nail polish remover, perfume, shampoo and after-shave lotion. Make sure these too are stored out of the reach and sight of children.


To get their “kicks,” teenagers have been known to make explosive cocktails by combining prescription drugs taken out of the family medicine cabinet with other medications or alcohol. Teens are under the false impression that prescription drugs are somehow safer than illegal street drugs, since they are sold on the mainstream market. But taking prescription drugs for non-medical reasons can have dangerous consequences, ranging from poisoning and addiction to overdose and death.

Some prescription drugs are more likely to be abused by teens. Parents should be keeping a watchful eye on painkillers, antidepressants, stimulants and cough syrup containing dextromethorphan (DM).

To learn more, visit made available by the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec. (In French only)

Be proactive!

To keep medications out of the hands of teens, you need to limit access to them and have open, frank discussions with them about the issue. Here are practical things you can do to prevent the problem:

  • Make a list of all medications you have at home and check their quantity on a regular basis.
  • Regularly return unused or expired medications to your family pharmacist.
  • Store medications safely and out of the reach of your children.
  • Always be on the lookout for behavioural changes in your teen.
  • Educate your children and other family members about this issue.

In the case of younger children, never compare medications to candy and always leave them in their original containers.

Not in the garbage!

Keep in mind that medications are chemical products that can potentially contaminate our water and soil. Never discard them in the garbage, down the toilet or in the sink. Return them to your family pharmacy, instead, where they will be disposed of safely.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS)

Pharmacy services

Has your child taken a medication that was not prescribed to him? Wondering about possible interactions between drugs and food or alcohol? Your family pharmacist can answer your questions or, if need be, direct you to the appropriate resources. Just ask!

Services in pharmacy are the sole responsibility of pharmacist-owners. Only pharmacists are responsible for pharmacy practice. They only provide related services acting under a pharmacist-owner's name.

The Website deals with health-related topics. The information presented has been validated by experts and is accurate at the time of posting. In no way does it replace the opinion of a health care professional. Uniprix Inc. and its affiliated pharmacists accept no liability whatsoever in connection with the information provided on this Website.