Most of us have become aware of the terrible scourge of drug abuse that grips our nation. Here in Ocean County, heroin kills one person every 48 hours. Statewide we have seen a 214% increase in drug use since 2010 with approximately 128,000 New Jerseyans struggling with addiction at last count. As a community, Toms River ranks 8th statewide in the rate of heroin addiction and overall Ocean County ranks 2nd in that sad list with 157 heroin deaths in 2015.
The problem is not just heroin, of course, but also prescriptions pain killers as well–including frequently used drugs like oxycontin, hydrocodone, and fentanyl(note–available as a dermal patch). Many may have these drugs in their medicine cabinets left over from ailments like dental work, back pains, or surgical procedures.
What can we do with these medications when the problem is resolved but there are pills left over? It’s NOT as simple as one might think. The risks here are obvious–adolescents are impulsive and can be foolish: parents should never be too confident and should NEVER take anything for granted here. And we must note that other youngsters visit and that just adds another variable to that safety equation:
- Do NOT discard medicines in the trash
- Be careful about flushing medications down the toilet
- Best to discard at a reputable center
- When in doubt, check with your pharmacist
- When disposing pill bottles, be sure to scratch off all identifying information
- Do not crush pills, but you can break them into halves or quarter
- If you are going to discard pills, mix them with undesirable substances like dirt, kitty litter, or coffee grounds and discard in trash in sealed plastic bags
One last suggestion: ask me about keeping a prescription for naloxone (narcan)–available as a nasal spray–for your home. Naloxone is an absolute antidote for opioids, is easy and VERY safe to administer. Because “you never can tell,”
Please send along questions and comments, and thanks for following.