Proper medication storage and disposal helps saves lives

Pillpods and other sealable, lockable storage containers are one way of keeping medications safe and secure.

CHESTERTOWN — Did you know that sports injuries are the second leading cause of emergency room visits for adolescents?

About 3 million youth are seen in hospital emergency rooms each year, with primary care doctors seeing another 5 million.

And while we’ve probably all heard of treating injuries with the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), sometimes a health care provider may recommend or prescribe a prescription opioid.

Most sports medicine physicians and other health care providers recognize that when treating children and teens, opioids are not appropriate for common injuries.

Still, sometimes a prescription opioid is used, like for a serious injury that requires surgery. Most children or teens will not become dependent upon painkillers if prescribed and used correctly.

Yet, accessibility of medications is the lead contributor to misuse and abuse of prescription opioids.

Research shows that 70% of people who abuse these medications get them from friends or family, usually right out of a medicine cabinet. Meanwhile, more than 50,000 young children are seen in emergency rooms each year because they got into medications when an adult wasn’t looking.

Proper storage and prompt disposal of leftover medications — especially opioids — can greatly reduce the risk of accidental poisonings, misuse, abuse and overdose.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people to keep all medications, even vitamins, away from children’s reach.

Other tips include putting medicines away every time; making sure the safety cap is locked; teaching kids about medication safety; and keeping the poison help number handy (800-222-1222).

The CDC has a medication safety campaign with a host of resources at upandaway.org.

The preferred method for disposing of unused, unwanted, expired or otherwise unneeded medications is at a drug drop box.

There are three drop box locations in Kent County, all accept medications 24 hours a day:

• Kent County Sheriff’s Office, 104 Vickers Drive Unit B, Chestertown

• Rock Hall Police Department, 5885 N. Main St., Rock Hall

• Chestertown Police Department, 601 High St., Chestertown

Second best is with a medication disposal bag, such as Deterra.

Annette Duckery, alcohol and other drugs prevention coordinator with Kent County Behavioral Health Prevention Office, has a variety of pill storage options and medication disposal bags available for free. She also has free bags for mailing in sharps. Call Duckery at 410-778-7918.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency sponsors “Take Back Days” twice earch year, in April and in October, in communities across the nation. Many communities have their own take back programs. The October event is slotted to occur from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Check with local law enforcement for details.

If you cannot get to a drop box and cannot access a medication disposal bag such as Deterra, you may safely dispose of medications at home as is recommended by the Office of National Drug Control Policy:

• Remove the medications from their original containers.

• Conceal or remove any personal and prescription information from the label with a marker, duct tape or by scratching it off.

• Mix with undesirable substance like coffee grounds or kitty litter.

• Put the mixture into an empty can or sealable bag.

• Throw away.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cautions against flushing medications unless specifically on their flush list and only if a drop box isn’t an option. Medications on that list, including fentanyl, are especially lethal with just one dose.

Accessibility is the lead contributor to all misuse and abuse of prescription opioids. By simply keeping these medications under strict lock and key, and keeping complete count of the pills, anyone can help prevent accidental overdoses, deaths and misuse.

Kent Goes Purple is a substance abuse awareness and prevention initiative that empowers our youth and our community to “Go Purple” as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse.

This year’s initiative includes daily educational messages, which the community can share from the Kent Goes Purple Facebook page. These messages are intended to educate and encourage conversations about substance use prevention. Other ways to get involve include getting trained on Narcan; learning about the Good Samaritan Law; and learning about medication storage and disposal.

More information is available at www.KentGoesPurple.org and on Facebook @kentgoespurple.

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