Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in America, and with drug abuse on the rise in Tennessee, you may be wondering what you can do to help.
Opioids are medications that are prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain, but can also have serious risks and side effects In 2015, Tennessee was second in the nation in number of opioid prescriptions and fourth in opioid overdose deaths.
According to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, 55% of people who were using prescription drugs recreationally in 2014 got those drugs from a family member or friend.
Knowing how to prevent opioid abuse can be overwhelming and confusing, especially when the problem seems out of control. But there are steps you can take that can make a real difference.
Staying Safe While Taking Opioids
If you’re taking an opioid prescription, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Take your medicine according to the directions on the label. Don’t take more or less than the prescribed amount of any medicine.
- Don’t break, crush, or chew tablets without talking to your doctor first.
- Keep in regular contact with your doctor. Let him or her know about any changes in your health, mood or symptoms.
- Get into the habit of checking the expiration dates on your medicine bottles, and safely disposes of medicine that has expired.
- Know the signs of opioid abuse. If you feel you may have a problem, talk to your doctor or call the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Learn more about the state of opioid abuse in Tennessee.
Don’t Become an “Accidental Drug Dealer”
Because many of the people who start abusing prescription opioids get the drugs from family and friends, here’s what you need to know to protect your loved ones:
- Never share a prescription with anyone else. Your prescribing doctor intended each dose and drop of medicine to be solely for you.
- Keep your medications in a secure, well-hidden place that’s locked, if possible. You can buy a lock box for a reasonable cost at your local pharmacy or grocery store.
- Count the number of tablets or capsules in each prescription bottle you have. Write down that number, and then, every couple of weeks, go back and count again, subtracting the doses you know you’ve taken. This way, you’ll know if any pills are missing.
You can learn more about preventing opioid drug abuse in Tennessee by visiting the statewide Count It, Lock It, Drop It initiative.
Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.