MINNEAPOLIS — Medications play an important role in healthcare. Prescriptions, when used properly, can alleviate pain and help a body heal. However, medications can also result in addiction, crime, and even threats to the environment.
Opioids are a class of medications prescribed to alleviate pain. Opioids may be more commonly called oxycodone (OxyContin® Percodan®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, fentanyl (Duragesic®), morphine, and hydromorphone (Dilaudid®) The medications are highly effective at managing severe and chronic pain. However, they come with a high risk for addiction. Medical experts say people who use them, even as exactly prescribed, may become addicted. In some cases that abuse can be fatal.
Overdose deaths reached an all-time high in 2020 according to a report by PBS News Hour. The numbers are going higher. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics show 100,306 people died from drug overdoses between April 2020 – April 2021. That was a 28.5% increase over the previous year. In Minnesota, data indicates 1,296 people died from overdoses in the year ending October 2021. That’s more than three people each day.
Take action! Safely dispose of unused/expired medications
Minnesota’s Office of the Attorney General has a list of places to safely get rid of unused or expired medication. In Minnesota there are 265 ‘take back’ locations that are affiliated with law enforcement agencies and local governments. Click here for an interactive map that allows you to search by using postal zip codes. A listing of the drop-off locations can be found using this link. Many pharmacy chains also have collection programs. Check with your local pharmacists to learn more.
Minnesota’s AG says prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in Minnesota and the United States. Their ‘Dose of Reality’ program aims to keep unused or expired medications from falling into the wrong hands.
If you or someone you know takes too large of a dose or accidentally takes the wrong medication, call the MN Poison Control System [https://mnpoison.org/] immediately at 800-222-1222. Help is available 24/7.
Resources used in this article
Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. top 100,000 annually – National Center for Health Statistics
Nation’s drug-related overdoses continues to worsen – American Medical Association
Overdose deaths hit historic high in 2020 - PBS News Hour
Pharmacy disposal search engine - US Department of Justice and US Drug Enforcement Administration
National Takeback Day website - Drug Enforcement Administration
Opioid basics - Minnesota Department of Health
Know Your Numbers
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