Prevention and Intervention

Safe Storage of Substances Campaign

There are many factors that impact a person’s decision to use drugs and alcohol. Availability of substances is one of the most consistent predictors of substance use among youth, and many youth report that home is where they find and try out drugs and alcohol. If you share a home with young people, you can prevent accidental and intentional use by reducing access to substances in the home. Additionally, young people who report a close connection with their caregivers and an understanding of their family values are the least likely to use substances. 

Take these steps to prevent youth from accessing substances like marijuana, alcohol, medications, cigarettes, and vaping products at home: 

1. Safely store substances 

You already store things like cleaning supplies and dangerous tools in a safe place away from kids. Treat substances the same way. Lock marijuana, alcohol, medications, and cigarettes and vaping products in a cabinet, box, or drawer. 

Adult and young person in a kitchen. Locked cabinets and lockbox with pills, alcohol, marijuana, and vape.


  • Since 2014, marijuana exposures reported to the Washington Poison Center for children 6-12 years has more than tripled-Washington Poison Center, 2020   
  • 25% of Seattle 10th graders that report drinking alcohol say they took it from home without permission-Healthy Youth Survey, 2018   

2. Keep track and dispose

Know the types and amounts of substances you have. Get rid of medications that are no longer needed or expired. Find a drop-box near you at: 

Expired medication. Person thinking of pills, alcohol, marijuana and vapes. Open laptop. Safe disposal box.

  • Among elementary-aged children, ibuprofen is the substance most commonly used to harm themselves or attempt suicide-Washington Poison Center, 2018  
  • Prescription stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall) are the most misused prescription drugs by Seattle 10th and 12th graders-Healthy Youth Survey, 2018 

3. Talk with youth 

Help youth make healthy decisions. Talk about substance use and set clear expectations. Get tips on how to have these conversations at

Two adults and child at table outside. Speech bubble from adults with marijuana leaf and vape pen.

  • Kids who learn about the risks of alcohol and other drugs at home are less likely to use them. 85% of Washington 10th graders who report having clear family rules about alcohol and drugs don’t drink-Healthy Youth Survey, 2018   

Download the Safe Storage of Substances poster here: 

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