By DR. BRAD BUNDY
While the rest of Ohio has had an increase in the number of deaths and emergency room visits related to unintentional drug overdoses, the numbers are decreasing in Hancock County.
This is in part due to the efforts of the Hancock County Opiate/Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force.
It is made up of community members, as well as professionals in health care, drug addiction and mental health services, law enforcement, environmental services and education.
It is trying to educate the community about the prescription drug epidemic while reducing and preventing prescription drug abuse and unintentional drug overdoses.
The task force’s Medication Collection Committee is made up of law enforcement and environmental services officers. Together, the committee has established semi-annual medication collection drives, in addition to the 24/7 drop boxes available at the Hancock County Sherriff’s Office and the Findlay Police Department.
Student volunteers at the University of Findlay’s College of Pharmacy also conducts semi-annual medication collection drives. John Stanovich, assistant dean of pharmacy, also serves as the task force chairman.
Also, the Blanchard Valley Health System is taking several steps to mitigate prescription drug abuse.
For example, the Pain Management Clinic now shows an educational DVD, “What Your Patients Need to Know About Prescription Opioids,” to all patients who leave the clinic with an opioid prescription.
The DVD features area physicians, pharmacy educators and community members who have seen and experienced prescription drug abuse first-hand. It describes the proper use and precautions for a patient taking opiate medication.
The task force has also joined with Well at Work, the occupational health service line at the Blanchard Valley Health System to reach out to those who have failed employment drug screenings. Well at Work provides drug screenings on behalf of prospective employers.
To support individuals unable to pass screenings, Well at Work provides letters and brochures with information regarding the various substance abuse services, such as the Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services, Century Health Inc., and crisis hotlines.
The hospital’s Emergency Department has a new physician protocol for prescribing opiates. It is multifaceted, but part of the procedure requires providers to check patients’ names in the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System before writing a prescription.
The system lets physicians know if patients already have a prescription under their name, which prevents substance abusers from going hospital to hospital and collecting more prescription medication than they need.
It also gives physicians a limit on the days-worth of medication they can prescribe to patients and requires parental consent for prescriptions to minors.
The task force is committed to promoting awareness and the community is seeing success in large part due to the strong partnerships between it and a number of oganizations that are similarly dedicated to the cause.
You can help.
Make sure you are only prescribed opioids as necessary and never take more pain pills than you need.
To keep pills away from people who may abuse them, lock your prescriptions in a medicine cabinet and check daily to ensure no tampering has taken place. You can also properly dispose of your prescriptions by placing them in the 24/7 drop boxes located at the sheriff’s office.
Please consider joining the Hancock County Opiate/Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force. Visit the ADAMHS website at www.yourpathtohealth.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 419-424-1985 for more information.
Bundy is a psychiatrist with Blanchard Valley Psychiatric Associates, Findlay. Questions for Blanchard Valley Health System experts may be sent to Weekend Doctor, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay, OH 45839.
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