Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet This Holiday Season

By: Kelly Juleson, Partnership Co-President

Several years ago, we were at a family Christmas party and my then-four-year-old was using the restroom.  The party host hurriedly came over to me to tell me that my daughter was rummaging through the medicine cabinet.  I shook it off as preposterous since she could barely reach the sink to wash her hands let alone reach the medicine cabinet and wasn’t a curiosity seeker, but, in hindsight, the host was doing what we should all be doing: being vigilant about our medicine cabinets and the dangers they present.

My daughter was not actually in the medicine cabinet, but she could have been.  She could have found the pain relievers left over from a wisdom tooth removal or expired cough medicine.

My daughter, the night she was accused of going through the medicine cabinet (age 4).

There were a number of things that could have harmed her had she ingested them, and I hadn’t even thought twice about sending her into the bathroom unattended.

She was beyond the point of the plastic baby cabinet locks, but does that mean she (or anyone else) is really safe?

The holidays are a time when we have many people coming in and out of our homes.

More than 50% of those 12 and older who report misusing prescription drugs report they obtained the pain relievers most often from friends or family, according to SAMHSA.

This type of misuse is 100% preventable if we clean out our medicine cabinets and safely store our medications.

I’d like to think I clean out my medicine cabinets more than the average bear since I have Deterra Drug Deactivation and Disposal pouches readily available thanks to the Prevention Starts with You campaign, but I regularly find things that have expired and need to be disposed of. This week it was children’s cough medicine, some old ointments, a bottle of a partially used antibiotic.

I threw them all into a Deterra pouch, added water, shook it up, and then threw the pouch into the trash. Just like that, they were gone and rendered useless.

Proper deactivation and disposal isn’t just about opioids. Some of the most misused prescriptions include those with codeine. Don’t forget to dispose of your cough medicines and other over the counter medications.

We should not save medication – especially highly addictive opioid pain medication – ‘just in case.’ The safest thing to do is to get it out of your home so it cannot be used improperly.

As you hang your stockings, light your menorahs, and prepare to welcome people to your home, don’t overlook the important step of ridding your home of dangerous substances.

The Governor’s Prevention Partnership is here to help you in your quest to create a safe home for the holidays.  You can request your no-cost Deterra pouches today.  It’s our gift to you….thanks to a Congressionally Directed Spending project secured by Senators Murphy and Blumenthal.


The Governor’s Prevention Partnership builds statewide capacity to prevent underage drinking and substance use and builds strategic alliances to promote the overall well-being of Connecticut’s future workforce.