Greensboro, NC -- The main reason you shouldn't keep unused or expired meds in the house is not environmental. It's personal for a Burlington family. And they want to make it personal to yours.
"Don't be in the same position we're in where we have a Harry-sized hole in our hearts." Jennifer Kaffenberger has every reason to give you this warning.
"One pill can kill."
Harry Cohen was a 17-year-old star quarterback for Burlington Williams in 2011. To recover from a football game, he took pain medication - that had been prescribed for his grandmother. His parents found him dead in his bed the next morning.
So Harry's family lives with only pictures....rather than his physical's presence. His stepdad Richard says, "That's what you miss and the future. Our future's gone with Harry." Jennifer adds, "All of our hopes and dreams went with him. Going to college, getting married, having grandchildren."
They say like most people, they never thought prescription pills posed a danger to their star athlete. Jennifer says, "With as intelligent as Harry was, I would never think to have said, Don't take someone else's medicine,' because if I had thought it was even a remote possibility we would have discussed that hundreds of times just like we discussed everything else that could harm him and don't do this."
Their vibrant son had taken pain killers in the past for broken bones, and he'd just taken quite a few hits on the field the Friday night before he died. Jennifer says, "He knew my mom had hydrocodone at her house. He knew he'd taken it before, and I really think that's what he was reaching for and he got the wrong one - methadone."
Richard says, "There's no doubt in your mind that he did not realize the ramifications of what he was doing."
As the second anniversary of Harry's accidental death nears, the Kaffenberger's look back...but also look forward....and urge families to have the conversations since they can't with Harry.
Richard says, "If you've got a gun in your house, you lock it up to prevent harm yet you've got these medications just sitting around."
Jennifer says, "Please have the talk with your children. Have the talk with other parents. Turn in those prescriptions you're through with. Lock up those prescriptions that you're currently taking so this same accident, same circumstance doesn't happen to because once it happens, it's forever."
The North Carolina Attorney General's Office sponsors two medicine drops a year. You can sign up for an email notification about events in your area.