National Poison Prevention Week reminds us to keep our families safe | Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

National Poison Prevention Week reminds us to keep our families safe

March 18, 2019

Protecting our families at home is important to us all. While there are many ways people protect their homes from outside threats, there are many things inside our homes that can harm our families.

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Substance Abuse Prevention Program and Injury Prevention Program want you to think about keeping your home and family safe during National Poison Prevention Week, March 17-24. A growing risk to our health is accidental or unintentional poisonings, especially from substances people do not typically think of as poisons – the misuse of medication, drugs and alcohol.

Accidental poisoning from prescription medications, especially opioids, has been on the rise in Alaska. From 2002-2011 prescription and illicit drugs accounted for 51 percent of poisonings deaths for Alaska Native people, while alcohol accounted for 41 percent. From 2014-2015 drug poisoning (illicit and prescription) rates amongst Alaska Native people grew by 57 percent from 2012-13.

Our youth are especially vulnerable. From 2002 to 2011, nearly 80 percent of unintentional poisoning hospitalizations of Alaska Native and American Indian children (ages 9 and under) were caused by illicit or prescription drugs.

There are steps you can take to prevent accidental poisoning in your home:

  • Do not share medicine with friends or take drugs that are not prescribed to you.
  • Keep prescribed medicine in a locked cabinet and out of the reach of children.
  • Monitor and count pills, so you are aware if any are missing.
  • Some communities and pharmacies can dispose of your unused medication. If you are prescribed medication, ask your provider about your community’s drug take-back programs.
  • is an ANTHC program to help support Alaska Native youth and Alaskan youth to live healthy lives. For free resources, including safe disposal medication and deactivation supplies, please click here. Each deactivation bag contain non-toxic chemicals that safely dissolve prescription pills and patches, allowing for safe disposal. Learn more about the Deterra Deactivation System at their website.

If you are concerned you or someone you know may be misusing prescription opioids or alcohol, help is available. Get immediate help from a local poison expert by calling the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Visit the Alaska Poison Control System website: Contact ANTHC’s Substance Abuse and Prevention at (907) 729-3547 or email

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