October 27, 2015
Residents throughout Prairie North Health Region (PNHR) are encouraged to participate in a Region-wide Medication Round-up from November 1-30 by gathering up any unused or expired prescription medications or oral over-the-counter medications and taking the items to their local pharmacy for free, safe disposal.
Disposal of needles, syringes, blood glucose test strips, lancets, or other sharps may also be available at local pharmacies. Residents are advised to check with their pharmacist for the store's policy on disposal of such items.
Clearing out and properly disposing of unused or expired medications is a matter of safety. When prescription or over-the-counter medication is thrown into the garbage, or flushed down the sink or toilet, the chemical components can wind up in the soil or water supply. When medications accumulate in the home, there is also an increased risk of misuse or abuse.
“Opioids are the most commonly abused substance among youth in Canada. Young people are most likely to have their first experience with prescription drugs recreationally. Sixty-seven per cent (67%) of youth indicate that they obtained those prescription medications at home,” says Tyler Aiken, an addictions counselor with Mental Health and Addiction Services in Meadow Lake.
Citing a Canadian Center on Substance Abuse report, “Prescription Opiods,” Aiken reminds people that “misuse includes borrowing or stealing medications, tampering with the medication, altering the route of delivery, or using them with alcohol or other medications that have a sedating effect.”
According to Aiken, unsafe storage of medications in the home is one of the ways that prescription medications can be diverted from their intended medical purpose. The person for whom the medication was prescribed may be unaware that someone else is using their medications, especially if that person is not currently taking their medication.
The best way to ensure that medications are not accidentally ingested, or do not fall into the hands of people who could abuse them, is to take your medications as prescribed and, if you don't finish your medications, to properly dispose of them.
The same is true of over-the-counter medications. Either can lead to poisonings, addictions, or other harms. While people cannot necessarily avoid being prescribed medications that could be harmful when not taken as prescribed, safely disposing of unused medication is one way to help reduce the likelihood that misuse or poisoning can happen.
November was chosen for Prairie North's Medication Round-up to help highlight National Addictions Awareness Week and to focus on the potential link between prescription drugs and addictions.
The Medication Round-up is an initiative of PNHR's Population Health Promotion Unit, in collaboration with Mental Health and Addiction Services in Prairie North and pharmacies in communities across the Region. In addition to the November medication round-up blitz, free medication disposal services are available through pharmacies year-round.
If you or someone you know is being affected by misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications, you are encouraged to contact PNHR Mental Health and Addiction Services for support:
- Lloydminster 306-820-6250
- Meadow Lake 306-236-1580
- North Battleford 306-446-6500
For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Linda Lewis, PNHR Communications Officer
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