Opioid Epidemic: Our Community Response

The opioid epidemic is considered the deadliest drug crisis in American history. Every day 110 Americans die from drug related overdoses. Prescription and illicit opioids are driving the U.S. drug overdose epidemic – accounting for 66 percent of drug poisoning deaths nationwide according in 2016 to the Center for Disease Control.

HaysMed, part of the University of Kansas Health System, is invested in reducing opioid related adverse events in the community. The HaysMed Opioid Stewardship Committee is working on a number of measures toward this goal. One important measure at HaysMed is the use of evidence-based recommendations to reduce the amount of opioids prescribed, in order to reduce and prevent the frequency of opioid use disorder.

The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that 70% of people who misuse pain killers obtain the medication for the first time from friends or relatives.  It is essential for the community to reduce the supply of unwanted, unneeded prescription opioids and other drugs with potential for non-medical use by participating in a take-back program.

The Ellis County sheriff’s department has a green metal box in the lobby in which anyone in the community can deposit unwanted prescriptions of any kind. Walgreens also has a metal disposal box located near the pharmacy desk for all unwanted medication.  Walmart has a medication disposal bag, called the “Deterra bag”, available for purchase.  In addition, Walmart, Dillons, and HaysMed pharmacies provide patients receiving new opioid prescriptions (for example, for post-operative pain) with a packet of powder to turn unused pills into a solid gel which is safe for disposal. 

If you think someone you know may need help, there are resources available locally at Dream, Inc., Smoky Hill Foundation, High Plains Mental Health, and Central Kansas Foundation (Salina).

A video available on YouTube called “Rebekkah’s Story” highlights the issue.