substance abuse
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If you have a family member returning home after a treatment program for substance abuse, providing a safe environment for them to continue their recovery is important. Without it, they may have a higher risk of relapse and unravel all the hard work they’ve achieved during their treatment journey.

One way to support them in their recovery is to make some household items and medications unattainable. If a specific item is out of reach, it is unlikely to become a temptation. We’ll look at several items you’ll want to remove from your home or keep secured if you have someone recovering from addiction in your home. We’ll also explore how to store and dispose of medication and monitor medication misuse safely.

Items to Secure in Your Home When Someone is Recovering from Addiction

Prescription Medication

Prescription drug misuse is a big problem in the U.S., with more than 16 million people misusing prescriptions annually.1  When someone is in recovery, prescription drugs like Valium, Vicodin, or Oxycontin can be especially tempting because of the effects they produce.

If you need prescription medication for a particular condition, it should be locked up and out of reach for someone during recovery. Investing in a small safe that only you know the combination will allow you to continue to take your medication without presenting a temptation. Keeping prescription drugs in a medicine cabinet where anyone can access them is never a good idea.

Over-the-Counter Medicines

While a bottle of cough syrup may seem harmless to you, it can lead to medication misuse by someone recovering from a substance abuse disorder. Many over-the-counter cough syrups contain dextromethorphan (DXM). While it is safe when used as directed, when abused, it can lead to potentially dangerous effects comparable to getting high. This is especially the case if it is combined with other drugs. These medications should be locked up in a safe to avoid getting into the wrong hands.

Anti-Allergy Medications

If you suffer from allergies and frequently take anti-allergy medication, you’ll want to avoid keeping it in your medicine cabinet. Medicines like Benadryl contain diphenhydramine, which can have dangerous effects when not taken as directed. People can abuse these types of over-the-counter medications to calm them down. But, when taken in high doses, it can lead to dangerous sedation. Long-term use can also increase a person’s risk of dementia.2


Inhalants are another item you’ll want to avoid having in your house if you have someone recovering from substance abuse. Inhalants are a popular way to get high because they are cheap and easily accessible. Any product that comes in a pressurized can become an inhalant for someone who wants to get high. Keeping these items out of your home is the best and safest way to prevent them from getting into the wrong hands.

Kitchen Seasonings

While you may not think items in your spice rack can pose a risk to someone in recovery, think again. Nutmeg and vanilla are especially problematic. Vanilla contains 35% ethanol and can lead to stomach and respiratory problems when consumed in large doses.

Consuming too much nutmeg can also cause lead to a high that can last for as long as two days for some people. When someone consumes too much nutmeg, it can take several hours before they begin to feel hallucinogenic effects. This may lead them to consume more because they are not getting quick results. The dangerous effects of nutmeg are linked to myristicin, the main ingredient of the volatile oil of nutmeg.3

If you need to have these spices in your kitchen, do not keep them in an area that is easily accessible to anyone who may try to use them to get high.

Safely Storing and Disposing of Medication

Placing prescription and over-the-counter medication in a locked safe is the best way to keep them out of the hands of someone in recovery. Be sure no one else has the combination and that the safe is hidden.

When you have prescription drugs left over that you no longer need, never keep them in your home. There are several safe ways to dispose of expired or unwanted medication:

  • Use a medicine disposal kiosk
  • Look for a drug take-back day in your area
  • Ask your local pharmacy or police department about ways to dispose of the medication safely

If those options are unavailable, the Food and Drug Administration offers these steps to safely dispose of unwanted medication at home.4

  • Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something such as dirt, cat litter, or coffee grounds. This makes them unappealing and unrecognizable.
  • Put the medicine mixture in a sealable container to prevent spilling.
  • Throw the container in your garbage. Be sure the bag is not easily accessible to children or pets.
  • To protect your privacy, always scratch out any personal information on medicine bottles before throwing them away.

Many people often look to flush unwanted medication down the toilet. According to the FDA, this should never be done unless indicated on the prescription packaging. It is best to check the FDA’s list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing when no other options are available.4 Flushing is often not advised due to the possibility of unwanted items getting into the water supply.

Monitoring Medication Misuse

Talking to your teen about the dangers of medication misuse is key. Let them understand the dangers of taking medicine not prescribed for them or abusing over-the-counter medication. This is also important when it comes to household items such as inhalants.

If you have prescription and over-the-counter medication at home for your medical needs, keeping an inventory of your pills is important. Keeping track of the number of pills you take is the best way to ensure they are not misused. Even if you have them locked in a secure location, a frequent inventory can give you peace of mind that they are not getting into the wrong hands.

Get Help for Substance Abuse at Ember Recovery

If your teen has a substance abuse problem, Ember Recovery is here to help. We offer drug rehab problems for boys and girls in Iowa. Our center caters to youth and their specific needs regarding substance abuse. We employ a variety of therapies to produce the best results and help teens find and stay on their path to recovery. Our programs include treatment for dual diagnosis, detox referrals, and more.

To learn more about the programs at Ember Recovery, call us today or send us a message online.