RBC | Check your medicine cabinet, or kitchen cupboard, or wherever you keep your prescriptions. Are you harboring expired, unused or leftover prescriptions or over-the-counter medications? If you are, it’s time to take action, for your safety and that of your loved ones.
“If you think opioid addiction can’t happen to you and your family in Rio Blanco County, you are wrong,” ~ RBC Public Health Nurse Janelle Borchard via email
“Having unused or leftover medication sitting in your medicine cabinet for a rainy day is potentially putting anyone at risk that happens to open the cabinet. This could be your child, grandchild or other family member or friend,” Borchard said.
According to a recent Colorado survey of former and current heroin users, 70 percent started with prescription opioids (painkillers). Of those, 31.4 percent reported getting them from a friend, and 20 percent got them from a family member or stole them from a family member.
Meeker and Rangely residents have the option of disposing of unused medications at two secure drop boxes, one at Meeker Drugs and one at Rangely District Hospital. The box in Rangely was paid for through a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment grant Borchard applied for and received.
The medications put in the boxes are transported for incineration at the Hampton/NASA Steam Plant in Hampton, Va. Steam produced at the plant is used as a source of energy at NASA’s Langely Research Center.
“Pharmacies, hospitals, sheriff and police department across the country are installing them,” Borchard said, partially in hopes that removing old prescriptions from homes will decrease accessibility, and in turn, decrease the future numbers of people addicted to prescription pain medications.
“Our region is one of the highest in the state for opioid-related overdoses,” Borchard said. Rio Blanco County, had the second highest overdose death rate of 52.2 per 100,000 in 2016, with three deaths attributed to overdoses.
There’s no guarantee that safe disposal of unused medications in secure drop boxes will thwart an addiction or prevent an accidental overdose, but it does guarantee reducing the risk of those events.
With the holidays coming up, and family and friends coming in, now is a good time to clear out those old medications.
– DO take expired, unused or leftover prescriptions to secure drop boxes at Meeker Drugs or Rangely District Hospital.
– DON’T flush them.
This sends medications into the water system and can cause problems for aquatic life, and potentially, harm to the water supply.
– DON’T toss them in the trash.
Simply throwing unused prescriptions away is problematic for two reasons: potential harm to the environment and the potential for medications and/or prescription information to be stolen.
– DON’T share them with friends or family members. Keep medication in a locked cabinet and always dispose of unused, expired or leftover medication following the guidelines above.
By NIKI TURNER | firstname.lastname@example.org