ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. The fastest growing group of people becoming addicted to those drugs, are teenagers.
Now, a simple tool that costs no more than ten dollars is helping keep kids out of their parents medicine. That's often the first place they look for opioids when experimenting.
It's a growing problem in America: kids getting into their parents medicine. Seven out of ten kids take opioids that aren't prescribed to them with other drugs or alcohol according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That could eventually lead to abuse of something stronger: heroin.
Timer Cap CEO Larry Twersky says those statistics are alarming. In order to change that, he's changing the way we protect our medicine.
"The current bottles that the medication is dispensed in is a child resistant cap to keep children five and under out with opioids and other medication we're really trying to keep children six to 26 and older out of the medication," says Twersky.
That's where the Timer Cap comes in.
"We provide that additional level of safety to detect if somebody's been into it, down to the exact minute they may have been into it," he says.
While the Timer Cap wasn't necessarily intended to keep kids out of medicine that doesn't belong to them, it's certainly helping.
Here's how the Timer Cap works. We put it on our prescription inside and screw on the top. It then literally acts as a stopwatch. Letting us know the last time we or anyone else opened up the medication.
" It's more or less no fancy gadget," says CVS Pharmacist Supervisor Neil Patel.
He says the Timer Cap is just one of the tools available to help remind patients when they took their medicine and to keep others out.
"With the caps itself you have the timer right on there. it's not a locked bottle by any means but it is a child resistant cap we do have that safety precaution that's built in," says Patel.
"So imagine you have a parent that's out 8 hours a day, they come back and it says that their cap was open 3 hours ago. it's a good chance you're going to have a talk with junior at that time and see what happened," says Twersky.
Twersky believes this small cap can make a big difference, starting difficult conversations that could ultimately save lives.
Experts also suggest we lock up any medication we have in the house and hide the key or keep it on us. They also say if we have any pills left, we should not flush them down the toilet or throw them away, but instead take them to a designated drug drop off spot like the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office.