‘Speak Out, Opt Out, Throw Out’ Campaign for Opioid Abuse in Utah
‘Speak out, opt out, throw out’ Campaign for Opioid Abuse in Utah
On February 15, 2018, Utah County launched the ‘Speak out, opt out, throw out’ campaign to address opioid abuse in Utah. The staggering rate at which Utahns are dying from opioid-related drug overdoses continues to devastate Utah families. In response, Utah is turning to education on how to dispose of prescription drugs.
- Seventy-four percent of Utahns currently addicted to opioids get them from a friend or family member.
- Proper disposal of opioid medications lessens the chance someone will become addicted to them and reduces the impact on the environment.
- In a recent study, 29 percent of Utahns reported throwing their unused or expired prescription pain meds in the trash, while 15 percent flushed them down the toilet or sink. Throwing in the trash or flushing your medications can affect Utah’s groundwater and fish.
- Keeping unused opioids in your home can increase the risk for theft.
Source: Use Only as Directed
“Most adults don’t understand that drugs include over-the-counter medicine,” said April Thompson, a science teacher at Lakeview Academy. “Students never make the connection; the word opioid means nothing to them. They also don’t understand addiction or the brain. If we want this crisis to stop, we must educate students. Giving them the scientific understanding will allow them to make informed decisions and avoid the horrible pitfalls of this addiction. Science allows students to question, research, analyze and argue.” Source: Deseret News
Opioid-related deaths have increased in virtually every one of Utah’s 29 counties over the past decade, taking at least 635 lives in 2016. That same year, 280 people died on Utah roads.
Several Utah legislators are championing bills this year that they say would curtail inappropriate access to opioids, educate medical providers on exercising caution when prescribing painkillers to their patients, and help the state better evaluate the effectiveness of efforts to rehabilitate those who are addicted.
This isn’t just in Utah. The U.S. Centers of Diseases Control and Prevention says 42,000 people died of overdoses in 2016 from opioids, a class of drug that includes powerful prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin; illegal heroin; and fentanyl, a strong synthetic drug sold both through prescriptions and on the street.
President Donald Trump last year declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, and a bipartisan National Governors Association letter this month urged him to provide more federal money and coordination for addressing the problem.
A White House Council of Economic Advisers report last year found the national economic impact of opioid addiction at just over $500 billion a year.
How to Dispose of Prescription Drugs in Utah
In Utah, the top five circumstances observed in prescription opioid deaths were (3):
- 65% substance abuse problem (Substance abuse problems include those in which the individual was noted as using illegal drugs, abusing prescription medications, or regularly using inhalants at the time of death.)
- 62% diagnosed mental illness
- 61% physical health problem
- 16% history of alcohol dependence or problem
- 10% history of suicide attempt
Every month in Utah, 23 individuals die from prescription drug overdoses. Utah ranked 7th in the U.S. for drug poisoning deaths. Source: Health.Utah.gov
Many people aren’t aware of this, but most medications should NOT be poured down the sink, flushed down the toilet, or thrown directly in the trash in their original packaging. Here’s why:
- Small amounts of medication can enter the water system when medication is poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet, even after the wastewater is treated.
- Children or pets can find bottles of pills when they are thrown in the trash. They can also be found by thieves who go through trash cans to find pain medication or get your personal information from the bottles.
To find locations in Utah to dispose of prescription meds, go to: Use Only As Directed
If you are in Utah, you can also contact your local pharmacy or clinic and ask if they are working with RxDisposal as a solution for medication disposal. Contact us for details on how you can help: 1.844.RxDisposal.
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