Simple steps to safeguard prescriptions

Simple steps to safeguard prescriptions

Deterra drug disposal bags can be used to safely dispose of unused medications.

New Jersey has some of the most beautiful sunsets, great beaches and farm fresh produce in the area. It also has a heroin overdose rate three times the national average, with over 6,000 drug related deaths since 2004.

In the United States, surveys estimate that 92 million individuals take opioid medications. and of that number 4.6 million report misuse or abuse of the medications. Also, approximately 2 million report being addicted to opioids.

Studies have shown prescription medications are the source of the heroin and opioid addiction epidemic. What can the average person do to stem the tide? Removing access to these medications, which are found in most homes, is the first step.

There are five simple steps in the American Medicine Chest Challenge which everyone can do.

  1. Take inventory of your prescription medications
  2. Keep all medications is a secure area (in a locked box if necessary)
  3. Dispose of unused, unwanted and expired medications
  4. Do not share the medicine prescribed to you
  5. Talk to your children and physician about the dangers of prescription drug abuse — they are listening.

With attention to step 3 — medications should not be flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash as they can contaminate the environment. Safe alternatives are available.

As the state of New Jersey faces this opioid epidemic, the parish nurses of the Diocese of Camden have joined in the prevention efforts in their parishes and communities. Parish nurses throughout the Diocese of Camden have been raising awareness through educational programs at their parishes, facilitating medication drop off events at their churches and now distributing drug disposal bags.

Through a collaboration with Inspira Health System, the Southwest Council for prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse and the Camden County Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse; parishes throughout Camden, Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland counties are receiving Deterra drug disposal bags.

These bags are simple to use and deactivate medications quickly, thus keeping unused medications out of the medicine cabinets where easy access can lead to opioid and heroin addiction.

The Deterra drug disposal bags are biodegradable and present no harm to the environment, unlike flushing medications into the water supply. The bags also allow those who are homebound to safely dispose of unused/discontinued medications, preventing medication errors in the home.

The Parish Nurse Office is working with these agencies to distribute these bags to the parishes in the Diocese of Camden. If your parish is interested in becoming part of the solution, please contact Mary Anne Serra RN, 856-583-6120.

Mary Anne Serra is director of Parish Nursing of the Diocese of Camden.

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