In Oregon, 290 million opioid pills are prescribed yearly which equates to 70 pills for every man, woman and child every 12 months living in Douglas County.
The number of prescriptions filled is consistently higher in Douglas County than the statewide average (Oregon Health Authority, 2016). Clearly there is a need to come up with a goal to develop an action plan that will promote safe pain therapy and also give the utmost quality of life to the patient suffering from chronic pain.
The Oregon Coalition for the Responsible Use of Meds and Oregon Health Authority are working in partnership to tackle the opioid crisis through community and prescriber education. I recently had the honor of presenting the opening remarks at the Douglas County Pain Summit held at Umpqua Community College. There is a real need to educate ourselves, our family members and our friends to find safe alternative options when dealing with chronic pain. We have to find the means to shift away from dependence on opioids if we want to improve our community.
Reliance upon opioids in one person can have a ripple effect that has far reaching consequences. The saying goes, “no one has ever said they wanted to be a drug addict when they grow up.” So how do we intervene? How do we stop the problem before it spills over into the community and becomes a drain on county services? Through access with local services, the goal of the summit is to identify the challenges in Douglas County and develop an action plan that will promote a measurable reduction in opioid abuse, misuse and overdose in the county.
Another program that is gaining popularity as part of a solution to the problem is better disposal of disused pills. Disused pills in family medicine cabinets create a significant risk for abuse and dependence. You can bring your unused pills to several locations throughout Douglas County for disposal: Gordon Pharmacy in Canyonville, Myrtle Creek, Winston, Sutherlin and Reedsport City Hall, and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office lobby.
A goal to have pill disposal sites located at all Douglas County pharmacies is gaining momentum.
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.