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Hospice Helps Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

Local Hospice Joins Effort to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

A local hospice is joining a substance abuse prevention coalition to prevent their patient’s prescriptions from falling into the wrong hands.

Cypress Basin Hospice is distributing prescription drug disposal bags to families who need a way to dispose of their loved one’s prescription drugs after they pass away. The Northeast Texas Coalition Against Substance Abuse provides the bags.

“We think this is a great way for us to work together on this important issue,” said Sheri Cobb, Director of Provider Relations with Cypress Basin Hospice. “This means that our families will have one less thing to worry about.”

The bags are charcoal-based and landfill-safe. They hold 90 pills, 12 ounces of liquid, or 12 patches. The user just puts the medication in the package, fills it halfway with warm water, seals it and throws it away. The charcoal renders the drugs inert.

“This partnership is a win-win for everyone,” said Rebecca Smith, coalition coordinator for the Northeast Texas Coalition Against Substance Abuse, a program of the nonprofit Next Step Community Solutions.

“Families who lose a loved one are sometimes left with the unused medication and worry about how to dispose of it properly. And we know that many times when a teen wants to abuse a prescription drug, they will take it from a family member’s medicine cabinet. This partnership will help prevent addiction before it even starts by making sure the drugs aren’t there for abuse.”

The bags distribution is to all the counties the coalition covers: Bowie, Cass, Franklin, Morris and Titus counties. The alliance can provide the bags as part of the Texas Targeted Opioid Response grant.

Overdoses killed about 63,000 people in 2016, which is a 21 percent increase from the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 42,000 of those deaths, about 66 percent, were caused by some opioid.

According to the Regional Needs Assessment, released by the Region 4 Prevention Resource Center in Longview, 91 Americans die daily from an opioid overdose.

The East Texas area has a higher rate of 7th-12th graders abusing prescription drugs than the average in Texas, and East Texas is significantly higher overall than the state for total prescriptions per 100K population. No counties in this area have a lower prescribing rate than Texas.

“Opioids are powerful painkillers that can be dangerous if not taken correctly, and there are a lot of them out there,” Smith said. “We hope that by working together, we can turn the tide of this national crisis in our community.”

To learn more about how you can join the coalition, call Rebecca Smith at 903-939-9010 or email rebecca.smith@nextstepcsi.com.