Amherst, NH: Task force ready to fight prescription drug abuse
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
To the Editor:
An alarming number of teens are intentionallyabusing prescription and over the counter medicinesto get high, having ”pharm-ing parties” as they arecalled. We all worry when our teens get behind thewheel of a car, but did you know that in 2009, morepeople died in accidental pharmaceutical drugoverdoses than in car accidents? According to theNew Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, in2009 164 people in New Hampshire died from drugoverdoses while 110 died in car accidents.Prescription drug abuse is more common than youthink. In fact, prescription drug abuse is the fastestgrowing drug problem in the United States.
In New Hampshire, 20 percent of teens have abused prescription drugs. And over the last 10 years, prescription drug abuse in New Hampshire has risen 200 percent.
The risks to our community related to the misuse, abuse and improper disposal over medications are many. In the U.S. more than 100 pharmaceuticals and their metabolites have been identified in groundwater, streams and coastal waters. Our children and teensare at risk by accidental ingestion or recreational abuse if they get their hands on these drugs. And our homes are possible targets of theft.
So let’s take action! Paula Troie, local Amherst mom and pharmacist has a passion for this cause. Paula graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She is a licensed RPh in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont, and has worked more than 15 years in retail and most recently as a pharmacist consultant with PharMerica overlooking patient drug regimen review, facility compliance of state and federal regulations and proper disposal of narcotic and controlled substances. Working with the American Medicine Chest Challenge National Campaign, local police departments, the Greater Nashua Substance Abuse Coalition Coordinator, the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce, local waste disposal professionals and volunteers, Paula has put together a task force whose goal is to eliminate the risk of improper use and disposal of medications in Amherst, Mont Vernon and Milford. The task forces’ goal is three-fold; to promote Rx abuse awareness and responsible disposal methods during multiple community events and through the media, coordinate an actual Take-Back day partnering with the American Medicine Chest Challenge and create a permanent lock box for unwanted, expired medicines in each community for an immediate disposal option.
Here’s what she has to say about the problem:
“We need to bust the myth that prescription drugs are safer because they are FDA approved and prescribed by a doctor. There is a surplus of medications in our communities due to circumstances beyond our control; increased number of prescriptions written for narcotics, direct to consumer marketing of Rx drugs, large quantities of medications being distributed by mail order pharmacies, and internet sites our children are being exposed to, to name a few. What we need to focus on is changing the environment to create safer communities for our children and our elders. We need to teach our children that prescription and over the counter medications, when misused or abused can be just as, or more dangerous than illegal drugs. We need to also monitor how we take and store medications in our homes. Taking our medications casually in front of children may send the wrong message. Also, leaving medications out in the open or in an obvious location in our homes increases accessibility and exposes the potential for theft. This is a serious social problem that we have to pay attention to. Kids are dying because they don’t have the information they need to make responsible decisions. My goal in this awareness campaign is to save lives and Ineed your help to make it happen.”
The American Medicine Chest Challenge is a nationwide public health initiative that challenges residents to take the five step Medicine Chest Challenge:
•Take inventory of your prescription and over-the-counter medicine.•Lock your medicine chest.
•Dispose of your unused, unwanted and expired medicine in your home or at an AmericanMedicine Chest Challenge Disposal site.
•Take your medicine(s) exactly as prescribed.
•Talk to you children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
The Amherst Take-Back Day will be Saturday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Amherst Emergency Services Complex at 177 Amherst St., Amherst. Residents of Amherst, Mont Vernon and Milford are urged to participate in this event and make our community safer. Any questions? Call Paula Troie, coordinator, at 249-6792 or Jackie O’Dowd, publicist, at 582-5211.