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.

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.

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The Healing Power of Laughter

There are many ways to improve one’s health. Perhaps one of the most effective options is laughter. Humorous thoughts can decrease anger because it is hard to be angry while laughing. Anger and humor are incompatible mood states just like anxiety and relaxation. Humor can also be used to manage conflict. Using lighthearted humor to deliver bad news can decrease tension and anger. In fact, laughter is becoming one of the most popular additional treatments for people struggling with chronic mental and physical health issues.

Laughter Yoga has been a growing trend over the past decade. The traditional breathing exercises used during yoga are used in order to oxygenate the body and its organs. The breathing and laughter exercises are equivalent to the effects of a cardio workout by increasing energy and relaxation throughout the body.  You do not have to be in the mood to laugh in order to participate in Laughter Yoga. The exercises make you laugh until it becomes contagious.

Laughing releases endorphins from your brain, reduces the level of stress in your body, and strengthens the immune system.  It is proven that laughter therapy, also known as humor therapy, can reduce negativity, emotional stress, and physical discomfort.

Life can sometimes offer tragic and impossible situations, but laughter can give you relief through those dark times. Comedians have the power to make audiences laugh even when life isn’t funny. They have the skill to give a different perspective using their experiences and unique interpretations.

In 2012, comedienne Tig Notaro was nominated for an Emmy for her stand up entitled, “Live,” where she performed just two weeks after learning the news that she had stage two breast cancer. She used this stand up to process her reality and to experience laughter in a time of darkness.

“She has this way of dropping her jokes that are – they’re wonderful, deadly jokes. And they’re about small things usually, like bees and drapes, but they’re incredible,” said fellow comedian Louis C.K. in an NPR interview. “So here she is applying it to something really big. It was an incredible example of what comedy is good at, which is taking people to the scary parts of their mind and making them laugh in those scary places.”

Rich Vos performing at The Stress Factory Comedy Club
Rich Vos performing at The Stress Factory Comedy Club on March 27, 2015. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Come and find healing through laughter at the Sober Recreation Committee’s annual Addicted to Comedy show on Saturday, October 7, 2017, from 8 pm – 10 pm. Comedian Rich Vos will be headlining the event. He has written for the Oscars twice and has been seen on HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central. Being 31 years sober from drug and alcohol addiction, he knows all about laughing through the darkness.  All proceeds from the show will go towards the Sober Recreation Committee (SRC).

To register for this event click here.

For more information about services offered at The Council on Recovery, visit www.councilonrecovery.org.

Drug-Impaired Driving: Report Reveals Shocking Stats on Growing Problem

Drug-Impaired Driving Report

Drug-impaired driving has become an increasingly critical issue for states and state highway safety offices. According to a newly updated report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in 2015, drugs were present in 43% of the fatally-injured drivers, more frequently than alcohol was present. Increasing use of marijuana as a result of decriminalization in many states has contributed to the spike in drug-impaired driving and more than 80 commonly prescribed drugs have been linked to traffic fatalities across the nation.

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The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 7

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 7 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.

So…having taken the steps to engage the process of Recovery in earnest, we have seen that the initial requirement is a rigorous exploration of the events of our past lives in the addictions. This “fearless inventory of ourselves” is meant to bring into consciousness the full extent of our disease, in all of its aspects.  We take inventory, try to understand the full extent of our disease and who we hurt in the travesties of our “acting out,” and then work to repair such travesties where we can.  The final steps, outlining the requirements of a continuing life in sobriety, provide a road map for daily living.

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The Red Flag Warnings of Cocaine Use and Withdrawal

Although the opioid  epidemic has recently taken the spotlight and overshadowed the devastating impact of other substances, the use of cocaine has remained steady since 2009. Cocaine is a potent stimulant drug. It comes in a powder form and also a solid rock form typically known as ‘crack’. If you feel someone you know and love may have a problem with cocaine, there are many clear warning signals to look for.

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