Courtesy of San Benito County Public Health Services:
In light of the COVID19 pandemic the use of pain medications has been on the rise nationwide. According to recent data from the U.S. Poison Control Center, pain medications are the most common substances associated with adult poisonings/overdoses, followed by other medications such as sedatives, sleeping pills, antidepressants, heart and blood pressure medications, etc. In addition, pain medications are the most frequent cause of death in children younger than 6 years of age, reported to Poison Control.
San Benito County is not exempt to the high use of pain medications. Although there has been a significant decrease in pain medication prescriptions in the past two years, in part due to the awareness campaigns by the San Benito County Opioid Task Force, there are still approximately 25,650 opioid prescriptions made annually to residents of this county, according to the California Department of Public Health Opioid Dashboard.
To combat the misuse of prescription pain relievers, the San Benito County Opioid Task Force launched a Safe Med San Benito initiative late last year which focuses on safe medication storage and disposal practices. “Safe medication storage and disposal is a critical way to decrease overdose and death due to medication misuse. Unused or expired medications or medications left unsecured in the home are a potential source for intentional or unintentional misuse,” stated Dr. David Ghilarducci, San Benito County Health Officer.
Medication safety applies to all medications to prevent overdoses or other adverse events. Medication safety includes safe storage and disposal of unused or expired medications, taking the correct dose as the doctor prescribed, and no sharing of prescription medications with others.
Med Safe San Benito initiative has been focusing on proper disposal of all unused or expired medications, especially controlled medications. Medications should NOT be flushed down the toilet or thrown away in the garbage. This will contaminate the water supply and landfill. Medications thrown in the garbage can be accessed by children, pets or those seeking to misuse them.
For proper and safe disposal, San Benito County has three options:
- Take to a medication drop off bin or kiosk location. The Hollister Police Station (395 Apollo Way, Hollister, CA 95023) has a medication bin in its lobby and will accept both controlled and non-controlled medications. Aromas Water District (388 Blohm Ave. in Aromas), Walgreens Pharmacy (600 Tres Pinos Road in Hollister), Paicines General Store (12261 Airline Hwy in Paicines), and Whole Person Care (1161 San Felipe Road in Hollister) have medication bins that will accept non-controlled medications only. For more details, please see http://cosb.us/county- departments/iwm/.
- Take medication to one of the two annual national DEA Take Back Days. These are held in April and October and usually take place in the parking lot in front of Target.
- Use of Take Away Envelopes, made possible through a grant from the Community Foundation for San Benito County. Take Away envelopes are prepaid postage envelopes that you simply fill with unused or expired controlled or non-controlled medications, seal, and then place in the mailbox or US Post Office where the envelopes are sent to a DEA destruction site. The use of Take Away envelopes has been an effective, convenient, and easy way to dispose of medications. Take Away envelopes are available at local pharmacies and Public Health Services.
To-date, almost 1000 pounds of medications in San Benito County have been taken back through these three safe disposal options.
Proper medication storage is equally important to medication safety as is safe disposal. Medications kept in the home should always be kept out of reach from children and preferably locked in a cabinet. There is a variety of medication locking storage bags or boxes that may be purchased on-line or at many of the pharmacies.
“Safe medication storage and disposal are critical to decreasing incidences of overdose and death due to intentional or unintentional medication misuse. The San Benito County Opioid Task Force and its Safe Med San Benito Initiative strongly encourages residents to follow safe practices,” stated Mary White, Chairperson for the San Benito County Opioid Task Force.
For more information on Med Safe San Benito, visit https://www.sbcopioidtaskforce.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.