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Safety for Seniors

Opioid abuse is a fast growing problem across the country and here locally as well. Addicts go to great lengths to find ways to feed their addiction. Sometimes that includes stealing medications from others. If you have ever had any kind of surgery or other medical condition that resulted in substantial pain, you have likely been prescribed an opioid pain killer. These medications are known by a number of different names. Morphine, methadone, buprenorphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone are the generic names for these medications. They are also sold under the brand names of Vicodin, Percodan, Tylox, OxyContin, Percocet, and Demerol. It is not uncommon for patients to have unused pills left after recovering from their medical condition. The abundance of these unused pills in the community is one factor that has contributed to the rise in abuse of these medications. Those addicted to these medications, and those seeking to profit from these addictions, are keenly aware of the fact that patients often have these medications lying about their home or in their vehicles. Theft of these medications is a very common method for diversion of these medications into illicit use. These medications serve a useful purpose in that they allow people to deal with major medical events with minimal pain. However, patients need to be aware of the possibility that these medications could be targeted by criminals. All of us would take certain precautions if we had $200.00 in cash in our home. Few of us would leave it lying on the kitchen table, exposed on a bedroom nightstand, or even behind the mirror in the bathroom. Yet, to someone looking to divert these medications, that is exactly what they see when prescriptions are left in easily accessible locations.

Like most crime, there are steps each of us can take to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim. If you are prescribed these medications, try to ensure that only those in whom you trust know
about the prescriptions. Most prescription diversion is done by people who know the victim. Make sure that only those who need to know about your prescriptions are told that you have these opioid medications.

Keep your medications somewhere out of sight or secured. Consider storing medications in areas of your home where you would have an expectation of privacy. For example, it would be difficult for a friend of your child or grandchild to explain why they were in your bedroom. It would be much easier for this person to gain access to prescriptions stored in a bathroom or left on a kitchen counter.

Finally, consider using one of the prescription disposal sites located around Benton County to get rid of unneeded or unwanted prescription medication. Drop boxes are located at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in Foley, the Sauk Rapids Police Department, and the Rice Police Department. These drop boxes are available during normal business hours for anyone to drop off medications, no questions asked. Doing so will prevent these medications from being diverted to illegal uses and allow them to be disposed of properly, keeping them out of our waters and landfills.