Patients checking into a hospital for surgery is a very common occurrence. After their procedure, they want and expect to be given enough pain medication to be kept comfortable while they recover. Often, the pain medication given by the surgeon and other medical providers is an opioid. They are prescribed for severe pain and are considered effective at providing temporary relief. The problem is that a number of doctors are prescribing these powerful painkillers without understanding how quickly patients can develop a dependency and thus start to experience withdrawal symptoms. When patients ask about how to taper off the medication when they are recovered from their surgery, they are often not getting enough information or accurate instructions.
It is no secret that many prescription pain medication addicts get their start by stealing from people’s medicine cabinets. Oftentimes senior citizens are the target of these thefts because they are most commonly prescribed narcotics to manage pain and are less likely to notice if some of the pills go missing. The Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition in Arizona is setting out to enlighten senior citizens on the proper way to manage their prescription medication and also provide tips for what to look for if they suspect someone may be trying to take some of their pills. “Our seniors are the most vulnerable when it comes to prescription drugs because, occasionally, family members steal their prescription drugs from them,” explained Kathy Grimes, a coordinator for the Coalition. The Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition wants senior citizens to start using pill organizers. These containers help keep track of the pills and if they the person has taken any. The group warns against carrying medication in a purse or in a car, this increases the chances that someone may have the opportunity to steal the pills. Another helpful tip, and something that is starting to gain national attention, is once the person no longer needs the prescription medication it is important to safely dispose of the pills. This prevents old prescriptions from stacking up in the medicine cabinet and keeps the drugs out of the hands of people who may use it to get high. Perhaps most importantly, never share any medication with other people. Not only is sharing medication unsafe but it is also against the law. The Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition also teamed up with Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center Hospital Auxiliary, the Safford Lions Club and Southeastern Arizona Community Unique Services. The partnership between the groups that came together to educate senior citizens with hope to have made an impact on preventing drug abuse in the future.