According to the state Office of Drug Control, 1,404 Kentuckians died in 2016 from a drug-related overdose. That number continues to steadily rise each year. With numbers increasing, what can we do to prevent our family, friends, children, grandchildren, etc., from becoming part of that statistic? We must be aware, proactive, and inhibit those around us from having access to medications and drugs not meant for them to take.
Prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate to severe pain and are usually prescribed after a bad injury, surgery, wisdom teeth extraction, health conditions such as cancer, and back pain. Examples of common prescription opioid narcotics include OxyContin, Vicodin, Lortab, Percocet, and morphine to name a few. It is important to have these medications when they are needed, but what do you do with them when they are left unused? Most of the time we put them in the back of our medicine cabinet not to be touched again, or at least we think that is what will happen to them. What if we put them up and someone else finds them and abuses the prescription we once needed? We become enablers to a growing epidemic sweeping not just our community or state, but our nation.
It’s a scary thought that a loved one, friend, or family member could get ahold of our old unused prescriptions and become an addict. Of course with the growing epidemic, solutions are becoming available for the public to safely dispose of unused and unwanted prescriptions.
Let’s talk options. Locally there are a few ways to easily dispose of your unused, unwanted, or expired prescriptions or over-the-counter medications you no longer wish to possess. In Letcher County, local prescription drug disposal drop-off locations authorized by the state Office of Drug Control are the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Office and the Jenkins Police Department.
A second option is the Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program Deterra pouch. This safe and eco-friendly drug deactivation pouch works by placing the unwanted pills, patches, and/or liquids inside, you then add warm water, seal the pouch, and gently shake, activating the carbon pod inside dissolving the medications over a few minutes.
It is safe to put the Deterra puoch in regular trash but should be kept away from small children while the process dissolves the medications. The closest pick-up locations for these free pouches are the Perry County Judge/Executive’s Office and the Floyd County Sherriff ’s Department. They are two of four pilot locations in Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has set up.
A third option has just been rolled out at all Walmart Pharmacy locations, and is called Dispose Rx. Dispose Rx is a small packet about the size of a pack of sweetener; it works by adding water to pills, powders, tablets, capsules, or liquid medications in their original container. You then add the packet of dispose Rx, seal the container and gently shake it, converting the medications into a non-divertible and biodegradable gel which can be thrown away in regular trash.
Walmart Pharmacy patients will receive a free packet of Dispose Rx when filling and picking up any Class II opioid. Patients with recurring Class II prescriptions will receive a packet every six months.
Dispose Rx packets can also be requested by Walmart Pharmacy patients at any time for free. Another option available at the Whitesburg Walmart for the general public, very similar to the Dettera pouch, is the Medication Disposal System, which works the same way.
With all of these free options now available to the public, no one should be hanging onto their unused medications. It is too big of a risk to take with this fastspreading epidemic taking over our nation.
I encourage all of you to properly dispose of your unused, unwanted, and/or expired medications. I urge you to help us spread the word on to your family and friends. Taking this small step can insure not only the safety of a loved one, family member or a friend, but it could save their life.