Article: Watch Your Meds

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by JLH, Jan 23, 2007.

  1. JLH

    JLH New Member

    Article: Watch Your Meds!

    Last night, I saw a disturbing story on the news. A local realtor had been caught on videotape entering a client's home while the owners were away, so he could steal painkillers from their medicine cabinet! What's even worse is that this was the sixth house he had robbed. He has entered a treatment program for substance abuse and will likely lose his realtor's license. What the story didn't mention, though, is how the clients who were robbed were affected. Could something like this happen to you?

    Unfortunately, this is an issue people with chronic illness really need to take seriously. Many of us require strong pain relievers and other prescription medication in order to be able to function. Those same medicines, particularly narcotics like Oxycontin, Vicodin, Dilaudid, Methodone, etc. can also be used by healthy people to get high or to
    sell to someone else. Medication theft is a particularly ugly crime, because the victims are often afraid to report it. They may know the thief, or they don't want to make public the fact that they take drugs with a reputation for abuse, lest they be labeled an addict.

    While the realtor story mentioned above is not common, it is only one of many possible scenarios. If your home is for sale, dozens of potential buyers may be perusing your medicine cabinet. I know one lady whose housekeeper stole from her. Another discovered the friend of her teen-aged son was selling her child's ADD medication. And still
    another found out that one of the employees of her pharmacy was intentionally giving her too few pills and pocketing the rest, which is known as skimming. It is even possible that one of your own family members could help themselves to your medicine.

    A lot of victims don't even know of the theft until they run out of pills, far in advance of their next scheduled refill. This causes a real dilemma if they must go without their medication because either their doctor, the pharmacy or their insurance (or all three) won't allow an early refill. Sometimes, they are even accused of running out early on purpose, because they are taking extra medication to get high or are selling it for a profit. And once you have been accused of being an addict, even if it is untrue, it may be difficult to continue to get prescriptions for commonly abused medications.

    If you take medication that may be desirable to thieves, such as narcotics, stimulants, muscle relaxants, even psychiatric meds, it is in your best interest to handle such medication responsibly.

    Here are some tips for reducing the likelihood of theft:

    • Don't leave prescription bottles out on kitchen counter tops, coffee tables, window sills or anywhere a casual visitor to your home might notice them.

    • Don't leave unfilled prescriptions lying around.

    • If you have leftover pills you are no longer taking, flush them down the toilet.

    • Cross out the labels of empty bottles with black marker in case someone goes through your trash.

    • Do not discuss your medications with strangers.

    • If you must allow people in your home when you are not there,consider locking the meds up and taking the key with you.

    • When you get your prescription filled, immediately count each pill within view of the security cameras. Don't wait until you get to your vehicle or home because you may be accused of pocketing any missing pills yourself.

    • After you pick up meds from the pharmacy, either take them straight home or lock them in your trunk or glove box if you have other errands to do.

    • Don't carry prescription bottles in an open purse or bag where they are visible to passersby.

    If you discover that someone has been stealing your medication, file a police report, even if you know the person. It may be the only way you can get the missing medication replaced. You may also be helping others who have been victimized. My friend whose housekeeper stole her meds, later discovered that this woman had been taking meds from several clients. Also, if the person doing the pilfering gets in trouble with the law, they may then get professional help for resolving addiction problems, if that is what is causing them to steal.

    It is not pleasant that those with chronic illness must be suspicious and protective of the medication they require for legitimate purposes, but keeping a close eye on your meds is one of the smarter things you can do for your health.

    Submitted by: Karen Brauer to

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