The opioid crisis has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives across the country, and those numbers continue to grow at alarming rates. Most people associate opioid addiction with young victims who become acquainted with OxyContin, then later turn to more harmful drugs like heroin and fentanyl, eventually overdosing or dying. Many older adults are unaware how easily the addiction begins, or how opioid prescriptions have led to the worst drug crisis in America.
If you've ever had minor surgery, an injury, arthritis or back pain, chances are you were prescribed OxyContin or Vicodin. Your doctor or pharmacist probably explained how to take the medication, and provided the standard written warnings required by law. You were probably not directly counseled, however, about the risk of addiction or overdose. More likely, still, is that you were never advised what to do with any leftover pills, and that you probably kept leftover opioids for later potential use.
Leaving unused opioids in the home in unlocked medicine cabinets presents a risk to other family members who could potentially misuse them. Even if you live alone, visitors (health aides, grandchildren and friends) could potentially discover the medicines, leading to abuse. Two-thirds of teens and young adults who report abuse of prescription medicines are getting it from friends, family and acquaintances.
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has published some important guidelines for monitoring, securing and properly disposing of unused and expired prescription and over-the counter cough medicine in your home. Click here to learn more.