Opioid addiction continues to ravage the United States years after the opioid epidemic began. The problem shows no signs of slowing down without a concerted, collaborative effort from numerous stakeholders. While government, nonprofits, and healthcare professionals must all play a role in helping to prevent opioid addiction, there is much you can do as well. The immensity of the issue means that, sooner or later, you are likely to encounter the problem to some extent. Equipping yourself to help prevent opioid addiction means you can play a role in combating one of the biggest public health crises of the 21st century.
How to Prevent Opioid Addiction
One of the biggest roles you can play in preventing opioid addiction is related to when you encountering these drugs firsthand. They remain incredibly common even as they have been less prescribed in recent years. Many people continue to receive opioid prescriptions for pain and after surgery. That in and of itself is not necessarily wrong. Opioids can and should continue to play an essential role in healthcare.
Even so, opioids must be handled with care. The first thing you can do is store prescription drugs securely. Regardless of whether or not someone in your family struggles with drug abuse, you should keep opioids under lock and key and consistently monitor how much of them you have. The second thing to do is to dispose of extra opioids properly. Do not keep them around if you have any leftovers following surgery. You can dispose of opioids at a pharmacist or public health disposal site.
If you want to dispose of them at home, you can. Make sure to follow these steps to ensure that these medications are neutralized.
- Remove medications from original containers
- Mix them with another substance, like coffee grounds or used cat litter
- Put this mixture in a sealable bag or another leak-proof container
- Dispose of this sealed package in your household trash
Prior to disposal, the number one thing to remember is only to take opioids per prescription guidelines. Do not take more than is recommended by your doctor. And do not take them if you do not need them. It is okay not to use the medication if it ends up not being necessary. When that happens, just dispose of it properly and be thankful your pain was never problematic enough to necessitate medication.
Prevent Opioid Addiction in Loved Ones
Combating the opioid epidemic means taking care of yourself and those around you. This doesn’t mean being a busybody or overly nosy. But it is entirely valid to ask your loved ones questions if they have been prescribed an opioid. Be an accountability partner with them to ensure they maintain proper opioid use and disposal.
Some people are more at risk for opioid abuse. If your loved one falls into a higher-risk category, it is worth having an honest conversation with them if they are ever prescribed an opioid. Do not make them feel like they will inevitably have an issue. Instead, approach the conversation from a place of care, wanting to ensure they maintain a healthy relationship with a medication they have been prescribed. People who have an increased risk for opioid abuse include those who:
- Are younger, typically in their teens or 20s
- Are in distressed circumstances
- Come from a family with a history of substance abuse
- Struggle with mental health issues
- Use tobacco heavily
Address Opioid Addiction Through Professional Treatment at Serenity Grove
If you or someone you love is abusing opioids, the best thing to do is connect with professional treatment. Serenity Grove offers comprehensive opioid addiction treatment that matches evidence-based methods with compassionate care providers.