What do you do when you have leftover medication that you no longer need? How do you ensure that it does not end up in the wrong hands?
The Crook County Health Department has joined the statewide Take Meds Seriously Oregon community awareness campaign to help answer those questions and others about medications.
"The driving purpose behind the campaign is to reduce the risk of addiction and misuse," said Katie Plumb, the prevention and health promotion supervisor at the Crook County Health department. "The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness around three themes around prescription medications."
The three keys to medication safety are: safe use, safe storage and safe disposal.
"Safe use is promoting that people use prescription medications as prescribed and working to eliminate use of prescription drugs that are not your own," Plumb explained.
The safe storage aspect makes sure prescription medication is secured from the time it leaves the manufacturer until the time it's dispensed at a pharmacy. At that point, it becomes the patient's responsibility to safely store medication at home.
"Safe disposal is so that people know where they can take unused medication, or if they can't take them somewhere, how can they dispose of them in a way that is safe for drinking water systems, the environment as well as minimizing exposure to other people," Plumb said.
"A lot of that is being spurred out of the opiate issue of people being addicted to opiates," she added. "This is really seeking to increase the awareness of how do we reduce the number of medications that are surpluses."
For example, when a patient is prescribed an opioid medication after a surgery but does not take all of the pills, there's potential for someone to abuse it.
"If they're just thrown in a trash bin, people can actually go through that and find them," Plumb said of the pain killers. "Water contamination and environmental contamination is another risk if medications aren't disposed of properly."
So how do you safely dispose of these leftover medications?
In Prineville, Mosaic Medical, Clinic Pharmacy and the Prineville Police Department have collection bins. The Take Meds Seriously Oregon campaign encourages people to take their unused medications to one of these drug collection sites during regular business hours.
Plumb said the medications are then incinerated or destroyed in a way that is environmentally safe.
When patients cannot access one of the safe disposal locations, they must not flush the medicine nor give it to friends or family to dispose for them. Instead, the campaign instructs them to remove the pills from the original container and mix them with something that cannot be eaten, such as kitty litter, coffee grounds, saw dust or a home cleanser. They should place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can or other durable container that prevents leakage. They should then wrap the container in newspaper to conceal its contents and place it in the trash the day their trash is collected.
An additional component to Take Meds Seriously Oregon is a prescription drug prevention and education class tailored to parents. The 60-minute parent education classes, coordinated by the OSU Extension Office, will be piloted in 2019. The parent workshop increases awareness about the potential harms of misused prescription medication and offers ways to protect family members through safe use, storage and disposal of prescription medications in the home.
Take Meds Seriously Oregon is a collaborative project of Deschutes County Health Services, St. Charles, Central Oregon Health Council, Oregon Health Authority, Central Oregon Pain Standards Task Force, and Lincoln County Public Health
Deschutes County received grant money from several funding sources for the Take Meds Seriously Oregon campaign.
"They realized that there was a need for it regionally as well as statewide, so they catered all of the materials to be applicable across the state, and they shared it out, which was very, very helpful of them," Plumb said.
The Crook County Health Department has already been dispersing materials and are in the midst of one final push, which includes billboards, print materials and public service announcements.
"It's been a really cool partnership with the region to put this together and have this be a regional reach," Plumb said.
Take Meds Seriously Oregon
Permanent drug collection sites in Prineville include Mosaic Medical, Clinic Pharmacy and Prineville Police Department.
For more information, visit www.TakeMedsSeriouslyOregon.org.
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