NATIONAL SAFETY MONTH – REACH FOR SAFER MEDICINEBy Leslie Terjesen on Thursday, June 9, 2016
“Week 2 of National Safety Month focuses on safer medicine,” said Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “In reaching for medicine, it is one of the decisions that can have a direct impact on our health. We are taught to make smart choices about food, exercise, driving, etc. to help keep us healthy and avoid injuries. We can still work to protect our health when we decide which medications to take.
Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator, stated that prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin account for more drug overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined. These legally obtainable drugs are highly addictive and actually less effective than a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. He said, “We know that many times when individuals cannot obtain these drugs that they may be addicted to, they turn to heroin, which is cheaper and we certainly know, deadly. Ocean County is working hard to address this issue through education, interventions and law enforcement. The majority of people who turn to heroin were addicted to the pain killers mentioned. We also know that certain side effects of opioid painkillers could hinder your ability to drive or work safely. These side effects include: dizziness, sleepiness, blurred vision, confusion, delayed reaction, and difficulty following directions. This could certainly hinder someone’s ability at work and pose dangerous situations.”
It is important to talk to your family about the risks of opioid painkillers. Some suggestions:
- Discuss the dangers of mixing prescription drugs with alcohol
- Explain how painkillers are made from opioids, which are similar to heroin
- Talk to grandparents and caregivers about how to safely store their medications
- Secure any opioid painkillers, sedatives, sleep medications or stimulants in a locked drawer or container.
- Make sure all medicines and vitamins are kept up and away from a child’s reach.
The Ocean County Health Department offers a listing of prescription drug drop off boxes in Ocean County on its website at www.ochd.org. Staff are also available for presentations on safe medication management.
You can also follow the Ocean County Health Department on Twitter@OCpublichealth or like the Health Department on Facebook.