By Traci Chapman, Staff Writer
As Oklahoma continues to battle the abuse of prescription medication, events like April 28’s National Take Back Day provide resources allowing everyone in the community to take part in that effort, Julia Cochran says.
“I think this is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the prescription disposal boxes in Grady County, and encourage community members to participate in disposing of un-needed or expired medicine,” she said.
Cochran is well versed in the issue – as coordinator for a federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant, she focuses on finding ways to keep illegal and unprescribed drugs off the street, while promoting healthy behaviors that can keep children, youth and adults alike healthy and happy.
The SAMHSA grant, known as Strategic Prevention Framework-Partnerships for Success provides millions of dollars to state agencies and organizations that have taken part in a more basic grant program providing a framework for underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. SAMHSA grants – as do Red Rock’s own efforts – concentrate on youth and young adult issues.
Those efforts are timely, according to statistics – while heroin and methamphetamine many times top the lists of dangerous and addictive drugs, in Oklahoma opioids passed those substances to take the dubious title of most deadly drug – currently the most common cause of accidental drug overdose deaths in the state.
In fact, according to the 2016 Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse in Oklahoma Review and Plan, opioids killed more Oklahomans in 2014 than methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine combined.
Included in those deaths were many individuals who procured prescription drugs that weren’t prescribed to them, officials said – and changing that fact is what those working at Red Rock Behavioral Health said they’re committed to changing.
Red Rock works as a community liaison, working to help prevention efforts, both in Canadian County and beyond, Cochran said. That’s where the agency’s SPF-SIG project – funded by SAMHSA, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and Oklahoma Department of Mental Health – comes in.
“Our grant focuses on the nonmedical use of prescription drugs for ages 12-25, and we focus on safe storage, safe usage and safe disposal of prescription drugs,” Cochran said. “The mission for this grant is to promote the appropriate use of prescription drugs by educating the community on the dangers of the nonmedical use of prescription drugs and encouraging proper disposal, safe use and storage of prescription drugs.”
One way to stem the use of non-prescribed opiates and other drugs getting into the wrong hands is to encourage those who have out-of-date or unneeded prescriptions to properly dispose of them, Cochran said. Successful networks of prescription drug boxes have sprung up across Oklahoma.
In Grady County, Red Rock purchased receptacles for one Tuttle and three Chickasha locations to date – at Tuttle’s Cedar Springs Pharmacy, located at 5310 E. Highway 37; and in Chickasha at Grand Care and Liberty Drug pharmacies, found at 2103 W. Iowa and 315 W. Chickasha Avenue, respectively; and Chickasha Clinic Pharmacy, located at 2224 W. Iowa, Cochran said.
“One way to be a part of the opioid crisis in Oklahoma is disposing of prescription drugs properly – many people have prescriptions that are expired or unused and, because of the increase in prescription drug abuse, it is important to safely dispose of those medicines,” C said.
Any unused or expired prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs can be deposited into disposal boxes. Liquid medicines must be 4 ounces or less, still in the original container and sealed in a plastic bag before drop-off, Cochran said.
Some items should not be placed in disposal receptacles, including:
- Illegal drugs
- Needles or syringes
- Medical devices
- Mercury thermometers, batteries or chemicals
- Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
- Bottles of liquid medication exceeding 4 ounces
- Sharp containers or any kind of trash
Chickasha Police Department and Grady County Jail also sponsor drug disposal boxes.
For more information about prescription drug abuse or other addiction issues in Oklahoma, go online to www.takeasprescribed.org or contact Cochran at 405-422-8872.