Just a few months ago, we received a letter from an organization called Safe Communities that had been sent out to healthcare providers. In it, we were told about the dramatic increase in cases involving drug abuse, mostly focused on heroin and prescription medications. Madison Family Dental takes this very seriously, and we are looking to help out.
Drug Abuse in Dane County is On the Rise
Sadly, there has always been drug abuse in our world — but it has increased dramatically in Dane County over the past decade. Between 2003 and 2012, drug abuse related hospital visits have more than doubled and death rates from prescription drug abuse have nearly quadrupled.
What Is Safe Communities?
Safe Communities, a nonprofit organization in Dane County, has helped improve the safety of thousands of residents since its creation in 1999. A few of their main areas of focus include traffic safety, suicide prevention, and drug poisoning prevention. They create campaigns across the country to help raise awareness, teaming up with citizens, local police and fire professionals, and healthcare organizations. Not only did they send us an informational packet to help further our knowledge of the issue, but also sent along fact cards to hand out to our patients explaining how to use properly use the medications that may have been prescribed to them at their appointments.
Using Prescription Drugs Properly
Part of the problem is that the directions for the prescription drugs are not being followed exactly or sometimes at all. It is always very important that you read the instructions for any drug you are prescribed carefully, and ask your pharmacist or doctor if you have any questions whatsoever.
Take Your Medication Exactly As Prescribed
The majority of drugs prescribed to patients unfortunately have side effects, and some can be uncomfortable or even dangerous. Many people don’t like having to deal with these side effects, and sometimes think that once they are feeling better they no longer need to continue taking their medication. Sometimes, people feel so sick that they think it isn’t a problem to double the prescribed dose so they can get back to work sooner. Sadly, stopping your medication early or taking too much at once can cause some serious problems.
Just because you feel fine 5 days after your 10 day course of antibiotics does not mean you’re completely healthy and that the bacteria have all been killed off. Side effects can be eliminated simply by changing the dosage instead of completely cutting the medication out. The bottom line is, always take your medicine according to the instructions given to you by your doctor and pharmacist. There is a reason you need to take it, and not taking it properly is dangerous to your health.
NEVER Take Anyone Else’s Prescription Drugs (Or Give Yours to Others)
Sharing medication is dangerous and can, in fact, be fatal. The medicine you were prescribed for your depression or anxiety is for you and you alone. If your friend feels down in the dumps it does not mean you should give them your medication. They have a different body entirely, and the dosage prescribed to you could be a harmful amount for them. No matter how much you think it will help them, having them see their own doctor is the right course of action.
Store Medications Up High and Out of Sight
Be sure to store medications carefully to ensure no one — children, adults and pets alike — can get into it. A lockable closet or drawer would be the best location for them.
Get Rid of Expired and Leftover Medication – the Proper Way
Discarding your prescription drugs improperly is just asking for trouble. They can end up anywhere — in a dump, in a garbage can on the side of the road, in an alley — and anyone could find them. Too often children and pets find prescription drugs that have been discarded incorrectly without a care and ingest them, which can cause extreme sickness, seizures, and death.
It is a commonly known fact that prescription medications need to be discarded properly, which is why in Dane County alone there are 12 Safe Communities MedDrop boxes alone.
Never Flush Medication!
It is also important that you never flush your medication. People do this thinking it’s the perfect way to get rid of their medicine without endangering the general public by just throwing it in the trash where others can find them, but that is not the case. By flushing medication, you are endangering others by exposing the prescription drug you are flushing into the general water supply along with surrounding rivers, streams and lakes. The only way to properly dispose of your medication is by taking it to an official drop off location where professionals will dispose of it correctly.
Together We Can Help Prevent Drug Abuse
It is so important that everyone recognizes and understands this growing issue with drug abuse. If your dentist here at Madison Family Dental prescribes you an antibiotic or pain medication, be sure you take it exactly as prescribed, don’t share it with anyone else for their safety, and contact us if you have any unexpected side effects or questions.