Don’t Overlook This Detail When Planning Your Next Open House

The smell of cookies wafts through the air and bottled water is waiting for the guests. It’s going to be a perfect open house! However, left on the bathroom sink, hidden behind the medicine cabinet door, or neatly tucked away in a closet may be a detail, which if overlooked, could be deadly. For most, touring an open house is an opportunity to look beyond the listing photos and get a feel for the house. For others, it is an opportunity to access (and steal) prescription medication.

From 2013 to 2017 Kansas had a significantly lower rate of drug overdose deaths compared to other states (CDC), but that trend is beginning to change. In a recent presentation, KDHE reported drug overdose statistics are predicted to increase 14.3% from March 2018 – March 2019. Drug overdoses are often initially ruled “no cause of death” and require a lengthy investigation before being classified as an overdose. The lengthy investigation time results in delayed statistics. 

“We’re below the national average for prescription drug and opioid overdoses, but our rate is going up while most other states have been going down […],” said Krista Machado, program coordinator at DCCCA, a nonprofit organization that provides social and community services.

Surveys have shown in most cases adults legally get prescriptions following surgery or for a medical condition and misuse them.

As people become addicted and continue to abuse medication, they often tend to find other ways to access the drugs, like stealing or buying them from a drug dealer.

Opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants are the most commonly abused medications and include the brand names such as Percocet®, Xanax, Valium, and Adderall. [Refer to the table below for more information.]

Classifications Intended Purpose Common brand names
Opioids Pain medication Percocet®, Codeine, Vicodin
Benzodiazepine Sedatives to treat anxiety, insomnia, and epileptic seizures Xanax, Valium, Ambien
Stimulants Increase alertness, energy, and focus Adderall, Ritalin.

Non-prescription medication shouldn’t be overlooked either. Many cold and allergy medicines contain pseudoephedrine, which can be used to produce methamphetamine. In an effort to combat the illicit use of these medicines, federal law requires consumers to show ID at the pharmacy when purchasing medication that contains pseudoephedrine.

When prescription theft occurs, it leaves someone without medication they need. For the victim, dealing with the theft can be a nightmare and in some cases, the medication can be difficult and costly to replace.

You can help keep your clients and community safe by informing home sellers about the importance of properly storing medicine during open houses – whether that means taking medication out of the home completely or locking it in a secure location.

Any unused medications should be disposed of properly. A list of controlled substance disposal locations is available at: Products like Deterra (a small pouch with a solution to deactivate the ingredients in the pills), enable consumers to dispose of the pills in any trash receptacle without hurting the environment. The Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS® took action to prevent prescription drug theft by providing members with drug disposal bags to encourage their clients to collect medication prior to an open house.

 While most visitors aren’t looking to raid medicine cabinets during open houses, it’s good to be aware of the potential hazard and keep everyone safe.

If you have experienced a medicine theft during an open house we want to hear your story. All parties involved will remain anonymous. 

For more information on drug use in Kansas, visit the following

Kansas Opioid Summary

Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States icon.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment:


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