CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - According to the Blue Ridge Poison Center, more and more people are stealing medicine from family, friends, and even people they don't know.

In 2018 alone, the poison center received nearly 22,000 calls about poison exposure and 60 percent of those dealt with drugs.

While a lot of these calls were accidents - people taking a higher dose than recommended or young kids getting into the bottle - the poison center is still seeing a fair share of theft, and most of it's linked to easy access.

An expert with the center says most of the misuse comes from adults and teens.

A lot of prescription drugs end up in the wrong hands of teens looking to experiment, or in the hands of drug users.

The expert suggests that people in possession of prescription drugs should consider hiding their medicine and being aware of the drugs in their house.

Kristin Wenger, an education coordinator at the Blue Ridge Poison Center, also says to get rid of any old prescription medications.

“In terms of disposal, if you have medicine lying around that's left over from a prescription that you don't need anymore, or if it's expired, you need to get rid of it,” Wenger said. “There's lots of ways you can get rid of medicine, but if you get it out of your house it will ensure that it won't fall into the wrong hands."

Both UVA Medical Center and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital have drug take-back boxes available Monday through Friday, with no questions asked.

If you or anyone you know experiences any type of poison exposure, you can call 1-800-222-1222. A staff member is on call at all times.

03/20/2019 Release from the University of Virginia Health System:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., March 20, 2019 - The Blue Ridge Poison Center (BRPC) at the University of Virginia Health System is commemorating National Poison Prevention Week from March 17-23 by focusing on protecting your prescription medicines from falling into the wrong hands.

“Unfortunately, medicine theft is a real concern right now,” says Kristin Wenger, education coordinator for BRPC. “Medicines are the No. 1 source of poisoning for children, teens, and adults. Proper storage and awareness of the medicines in your home is important to insure they don’t become part of the problem and fall into the wrong hands.”

The “wrong hands” might be a curious child, a teen who is experimenting with substances of abuse, or an adult with an opioid addiction. Wenger offers these tips:

  • Keep track of your pills. Be able to notice if any are missing, or if they suddenly look different.
  • Store prescription medicines in a secret place known only to you. Consider using a lock box, available online or at any pharmacy. If young children are present, make sure the storage location is up high, out of their reach.
  • Remove or scratch out labels on prescription bottles before tossing into the trash. Some pill thieves rummage through garbage to find homes or people to target.

In 2018, the BRPC handled nearly 22,000 calls about poisons or poison exposures. After consulting with our specialists, 8 out of every 10 callers were able to treat their poison exposure onsite or at home, saving the trouble and expense of unnecessary trips to a health care facility. This service is free and available to anyone, any time of the day or night, by calling 800.222.1222.

For more information, visit, find them on Facebook, or follow @blueridgepoison, #PreventPoison, and #NPPW19 on Twitter. Save the Poison Help number in your phone by texting POISON to 797979.