You are undoubtedly aware that the abuse of and addiction to opioids such as heroin, morphine, and prescription pain relievers is a serious global problem that affects the health, social, and economic welfare of all societies.
It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 and an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin. The consequences of this abuse have been devastating and are on the rise. For example, the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers has soared in the United States, more than quadrupling since 1999.
Several factors are likely to have contributed to the severity of the current prescription drug abuse problem. They include drastic increases in the number of prescriptions written and dispensed, greater social acceptability for using medications for different purposes, and aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies. These factors together have helped create the broad “environmental availability” of prescription medications in general and opioid analgesics in particular.
A national survey of U.S. adults who used opioids showed that nearly six out of 10 had or expect to have leftover medication, according to findings published in the June edition of the JAMA Internal Medicine journal. More than two-thirds of those who abused prescription pain relievers in 2012-13 got them from relatives or friends, according to the 2013 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
When I had knee surgery a year ago, I was given a prescription for 30 Percocet. I ended up taking two pills, leaving 28 sitting around my medicine chest. Fearful of statistics like those listed above, I took my remaining pills to the DUMP (Dispose of Unused Medications Properly) Box at the Macedonia Rec Center.
We must work together as a community to fight the growing opioid addiction epidemic. A small step I ask you to take is to go through your medicine cabinets and remove any unneeded or expired medications and take them to a DUMP Box.
Please see the attached flyer DUMPbrochure0716.pdf for more information. Thanks for your consideration, and thanks for your continued support of the Nordonia Schools.
Joe Clark, Ph.D.
Nordonia Hills City Schools