Keep your kids safe from prescription medications

August 13, 2020

August is Drug Free Kids (DFK) Canada’s ‘Drug Drop Off Month’, and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are being asked to ensure that medications are stored securely in the home, and expired medications are safely returned to pharmacies. As we continue to live with COVID-19 in our communities, it is important to stay at home if you are feeling sick. Securing your medications until you are feeling well enough to drop them off at a participating pharmacy is crucial.

Many young people may turn to substance use to cope with anxiety, stress, and boredom during the pandemic – safe medication storage has never been more important. According to a 2017 DFK tracking survey, 48% of Canadian households contain potentially harmful prescriptions, but just 11% of these homes keep their medication secure or locked away.

CEO of Drug Free Kids Canada, Chantal Vallerand, shared some advice for British Columbians who want to store their medication safely.



What can parents do to keep all prescription medications safe, and out of reach? 

  • Install a medicine cabinet with a lock and key.
  • Store prescriptions drugs in a safe, locked drawers, locked filing cabinet or lockbox.
  • Have a conversation with their kids about the risks of using prescription drugs improperly, and
  • Return unused or expired prescription and over the counter medications to their local pharmacy for safe disposal

What effect is COVID-19 having on youth substance use?

“It is important for parents to be aware that they may have increased their own substance use to deal with their stress, and as a consequence, their kids may consider that using substances is an appropriate way to cope with their uncomfortable feelings.

There is therefore a concern that youth may consider using substances to cope with feelings of stress, anxiety, boredom or isolation during the pandemic. To reduce potential of recreational use of medications by youth, it is more important than ever for parents and caregivers to securely store and properly dispose of unused medications.”

How can I see where I can return medications to pharmacies in my area?

The Health Products Stewardship Association website has a handy tool to help you find participating pharmacies in your locality. Simply enter your postal code on this webpage, and you will see a map of participating sites. If you have medical sharps you would like to safely dispose of, you can also check out their sharps disposal program.

What kind of items are accepted in BC?

Participating pharmacies here in BC accept:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Natural health products

How do I return them?

Remember to remove or black out any personal identification from all medications to be returned. Collect all dry medications such as pills and tablets into a bag or container. Keep liquids, creams and inhalers in their original packaging.

Protecting our environment

Along with ensuring prescription and expired medications don’t fall into the wrong hands, safe storage and proper disposal at drop-off points protects the delicate ecosystems around us. By disposing of drugs in unsafe ways, such as the sink, the garbage, or toilet, you risk exposing lakes, rivers, wildlife and even your pets to the negative effects of these chemicals.


Drug Free Kids Canada

British Columbia Centre on Substance Use

Health Products Stewardship Association

Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction