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Proper Disposal of Pain Medication is a Key Factor in the Opioid Fight

The Addiction Policy Forum recently partnered with a number of local organizations in Ohio, a state hit hard by the opioid epidemic, to distribute free Rx disposal kits. The kits include an Rx disposal pouch and educational materials about the risks of holding onto unused medications. The Addiction Policy Forum hopes that this will become a biannual ritual in the U.S. when Daylight Saving occurs.  

Opioid Clock for the Disposal of Opioids
Opioid clock representing the disposal of old prescription medication during Daylight Saving. Photo Credit: Addiction Policy Forum.

Want to help address addiction in America? Start with your medicine cabinet.

Heroin is involved in many of the opioid-related deaths, but addiction doesn’t always begin with the use of illicit drugs. Studies have shown that two in three people who currently use heroin started out by using prescription pain medications for nonmedical purposes. According to the Federal Government, more than 2,000 teenagers will misuse a prescription drug for the first time today, tomorrow, and the day after that. Many of these first-time encounters with opioids happen in homes with leftover medications that were initially prescribed by a physician.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that two-thirds of surgical patients end up with unused pain medications, such as oxycodone and morphine, after recovering from a procedure. Because most of us aren’t educated about the risks of keeping unused medication in our homes, these prescribed drugs are often neither secured nor disposed of properly but stashed in medicine cabinets and bedside table drawers because it seems wasteful to throw them away and we keep them around “just in case.” Getting rid of a bottle of pills may seem like a shuffle step on the long path toward addressing the opioid crisis, but decreasing access to these medications is as crucial as it is easy.

Can I safely dispose of medication without a pouch?

Yes! Follow these instructions to safely dispose of unused medications at home using common household items, or visit the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) website to find an authorized drop-off location close to you.

Proper disposal can be tricky, due to the fact that Rx disposal laws differ by state, some medications require specific disposal procedures, and others can pose a significant threat to kids, pets, and even adults and require urgent disposal.

To learn which medications fall into the above categories, or to get more information about safe at-home disposal, visit the FDA website or call the DEA’s toll-free hotline: (855) 543-3784.

How to for the Disposal of Opioids
Four ways to dispose of old and unused prescription drugs. Photo Credit: Addiction Policy Forum.

What is prescription opioid misuse?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines prescription opioid misuse as taking a medication in a manner or dose other than prescribed, taking someone else’s prescription (even for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain), or taking a medication to feel euphoria (i.e., to get high).

This excerpt was originally published at www.addictionpolicy.org.

To order an Rx Disposal Kit and to join the Addiction Policy Forum’s campaign to properly dispose of old and unused medication, please visit www.addictionpolicy.org. To learn more about counseling and treatment programs for those fighting addiction, visit www.councilonrecovery.org or call 713.914.0556.

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 17

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 17 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

In my earlier life, I was a rather serious marathon runner, training for and running a series of marathons over 13 years.  Marathoning, like other extreme sports, can be seen as therapeutic, having the effect of significantly strengthening various bodily functions.  It can also be seen as addictive.  Scientists have discovered that, during two hour runs, runners’ pre-frontal and limbic regions spewed out endorphins which are natural body chemicals that act a lot like medically engineered drugs such as morphine. The greater the endorphin surge in these brain areas, the more euphoric is the feeling of such runners.  For me, my alcoholic, obsessive-compulsive psyche sought relief in the imbedded highs of long distance running much as I did with alcohol and other substances and behaviors later in life.

Marathoning also has a wonderful mythic history, dating back to the Peloponnesian Wars between the Greeks and the Persians.  In 490 B.C.E., after the badly outnumbered Greeks somehow managed to drive back the Persians on the coastal plain of Marathon near Athens, an Athenian messenger named Pheidippides was dispatched from the battlefield to Athens to deliver the news of Greek victory. After running about 25 miles to the Acropolis, he burst into the chambers and gallantly hailed his countrymen with “We are victorious!” And then he promptly collapsed from exhaustion and died. This was the genesis of the original idea of this race in the Olympics, although luckily there have been no recurrences of the fate of Pheidippides.

For our purposes here, rather than look at the addictive elements of such extreme sports activities, it is worthwhile to recall the Greek history of the event and see the process in a recovery, celebratory light. Making the decision to run a marathon, committing to and doing the training, and actually running the race follow the pattern of recovery quite nicely.  A marathon, running continuously for 26 miles, is not something the body can do easily.  The decision to pursue it must be taken quite seriously.  The training must be pursued in great earnest, planned meticulously and executed over a minimum of three months.  Running every day, sunshine, rain or snow;  eating and resting according to a disciplined schedule; and developing the mind set to run the race with some element of control and precision requires a focus not unlike the road to recovery from addictions.  The process is very much like the march through the Steps of Recovery…the exhilaration of the final yards of the 26 mile race before a cheering crowd measured against the congratulatory applause of a fellowship group as we share our experiences in “carrying the message” of the 12th Step.

In 1978, I had the opportunity to run with a high competitive group in the Boston Marathon.  To this day, I remember virtually every step of that race, from the start in the tiny town of Hopkington, Mass, along Route 16 to Commonwealth Avenue, past Wellesley College with the lead women around me, up over the “heartbreak hills” of Newton and past Boston College at the zenith. The road down Beacon Street in the waning, exhausting miles, lead finally to the vision of the Prudential Center and the cheering crowds at the Finish Line in Copley Square.  It was a highlight of my life at the time…and one I can remember with great delight from a much different perspective today in Sobriety.

 

Rob Lowe Wows Record Crowd at The Council’s Fall Luncheon, Raises Over $600K

Rob Lowe Speaks at The Council on Recovery's Fall Luncheon

Iconic Hollywood star, Rob Lowe, helped The Council on Recovery’s Fall Luncheon exceed all expectations in terms of size, money raised, and rave reviews from attendees. Nearly 1,270 enthusiastic Council supporters filled the Hilton Americas grand ballroom on October 20th to hear the celebrated actor, author, and producer tell his personal story of recovery from alcoholism and addiction. In the process, he helped The Council raise more than $600,000 to fund its critical programs and services. Continue reading “Rob Lowe Wows Record Crowd at The Council’s Fall Luncheon, Raises Over $600K”

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 16

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 16 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

Dante and Virgil, having finally escaped Hell, the Inferno, find themselves traveling through the Earth into the light of day, on the other side of the world. Now they must traverse upward, through the circles of Purgatorio. In the Church of the time, Purgatory was a place where souls, otherwise in God’s grace, needed further purification, further temporal punishment to become holy enough to enter Heaven. In Dante’s poem, Purgatory is effectively the reverse of Hell, structured as a mountain with rising terraces, each dedicated to one of the Seven Deadly Sins, in reverse order from The Inferno. Each terrace is where souls with one of the sins encounter a process of purification dictated by the representative sin.

The punishments are much less severe, temporal in length, and designed to “correct” and “purify” the soul.  We could see this as a representative parallel to our efforts in our early stages of Sobriety.  This seems a reasonably good parallel to the practice of working the Steps of Four through Nine.  We must record our history in the disease and then reveal it to another.  From this we identify our “defects of character,” ask God for their removal, and then work to correct the effects they had on our life by seeking forgiveness from all those we had harmed.

Having achieved such a purification in Purgatorio, the souls reach a pinnacle, a sort of paradise on earth.  The top of the Purgatorio mountain is just such a paradise, it is the Garden of Eden before the Fall of Man. For us, this could be seen as a place of Steps 11 and 12, where we develop the conscious contact with God and begin to practice the principles and pass on the revelations.

From here, Dante proceeds on to Heaven, Paradiso. Virgil has had to leave him in Purgatory, since, in the beliefs of the Church of the time, his not being a Christian has obviated his worthiness to enter Heaven. In his place, Dante has connected with Beatrice, the love of his early life and the symbol of purity and perfection, and she becomes his companion in Heaven. They ascend above the Earth, traveling to the Moon and the Planets, each housing a realm more beautiful and bright than the one before, until finally reaching the company of all the angelic beings and the Trinity.  The brightness and serenity of this final place is a perfect representation for those of us in the glow of fully committed Sobriety, perhaps the most perfect rendition of the “Sunlight of the Spirit.”

The Council Teams Up with KPRC Channel 2 to Fight Opioid Addiction

Counselors at the phone bank at KPRC on October 6th.
Counselors from The Council on Recovery participating in the KPRC phone bank. From Left to Right: Desmond White, Lisa Simmons-Arnold, Christine Yeldell, Leonard Jeffcoat, and Kara Grant. Photo Credit: The Council on Recovery.

With the opioid epidemic becoming a community-wide problem, The Council on Recovery teamed up with KPRC Channel 2 during its October 6th broadcast of “Opioid Nation: An American Epidemic“. The Council sent five of its licensed counselors to staff a live phone bank throughout the one-hour program, as well as during KPRC’s afternoon/evening newscasts. Continue reading “The Council Teams Up with KPRC Channel 2 to Fight Opioid Addiction”

Binge Drinking: A Big Problem for Young Adults Not in College

There is a public health crisis plaguing the U.S. once again, binge drinking. People who binge drink may not do so during the regular weekdays, but may consume excessive amounts over the weekend. Binge drinking is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. An estimated 88,000 people die from excessive alcohol use each year.

In 1998, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) gathered a task force to solve problems related to binge drinking in college. They analyzed behaviors of college students between the ages of 18 and 24 years of age. Their 2002 study found that from 1999 to 2005, the percentage of college students who reported binge drinking rose from 42 percent to 45 percent. These numbers then declined to 37 percent by 2014. These improved statistics seemed promising, but another demographic became an even greater cause for concern.

Recently, binge drinking for non-college young adults has increased from 36 percent to 40 percent. Young men are twice more likely to binge drink than young women according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

Representation of how many people binge drink in the U.S.; categorized by age. Photo Credit: CDC.

Ralph Hingson, the creator of the CDC study, believes that this group of young adults are binge drinking more because they don’t have as many organizational involvement in their spare time. Binge drinking is not only a problem in adolescents and young adults but in every age demographic in the U.S.

“People often don’t recognize binge drinking as a problem because it’s not a daily thing,” Gregory Smith, M.D. stated in an interview with Men’s Fitness.

The following are signs that a person is a binge drinker:

Becoming a big risk taker

The person may act out of character and make bad decisions that lead to an increased possibility of contracting an STD or getting a DUI.

Drinking heavily every weekend

Abstaining from drinking during the week does not make it a wise decision to drink eight drinks in one night as a reward. Excessive drinking can lead to raised blood pressure, increase the risks of cancer, and interfere with medication.

Exceeding your alcohol limit

If the drinker has difficulty sticking with a planned number of drinks or doesn’t remember how many they’ve had, there is a problem.

Black Out

Heavy drinking interferes with a brain messenger called glutamate which is linked to memory. If the drinker cannot remember events of the night, he/she may have experienced a blackout.

Neglecting your responsibilities

If the person is usually hard-working, dedicated to his/her goals, but has replaced those characteristics with hangovers and drunken happy hours, there is a drinking problem.

About 22 million people need treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, but less than 1% actually receive treatment. If you know someone who needs us, please contact The Council on Recovery at 713.914.0556 for assistance.

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic Using New Technology

Facing a rapidly worsening opioid epidemic, federal health organizations are turning to new technology to fight the growing problem. Leading the way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a mobile application called the CDC Opioid Guideline Mobile App. 

CDC Opioid Prescribing Guideline Mobile App
An app created by the CDC in order for health professionals to monitor their patients’ pain and opioid medications. Photo credit: CDC.

The app features a Morphine Milligram Equivalent (MME) calculator that helps give prescription recommendations, and lets health providers practice effective communication skills. It is free and available to download on any smartphone. The CDC is optimistic that the app will help manage the legal distribution of opioid drugs more efficiently.

Cities across the U.S. have also found ways to tackle the opioid epidemic using new technology in their local communities. The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP) helps first responders and public health officials locate areas where overdoses are happening. It also helps predict potential opioid drug trafficking areas.

Continue reading “Fighting the Opioid Epidemic Using New Technology”