The pharmacy chain Walgreens has announced plans to do its part to reduce drug abuse and problems related to it with the introduction of two new programs this year. The first involves adding kiosks to many of its stores that allow people to safely dispose of unused medications. The second expands the availability of naloxone, an antidote used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
Introducing Safe Medication Disposal Kiosks
In February, Walgreens introduced plans to install safe medication disposal kiosks at 500 of its stores. Locations will include 39 states plus the District of Columbia, and primarily involve stores that offer 24-hour service. The kiosks will give people a place to bring unused medications, making disposal of these controlled substances and over-the-counter medications safer and more convenient.
“Walgreens pharmacists play an important role in counseling patients on the safe use of their medications, and now we are leading the way in retail pharmacy’s fight against prescription drug use,” Richard Ashworth, president of pharmacy and retail operations for Walgreens, stated in a company press release.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared prescription drug abuse an epidemic in the United States. As of 2012, deaths associated with prescription drug overdoses, specifically opioids, have increased to almost 17,000 deaths annually. The increase in heroin use in recent years has also been linked to a rise in prescription drug abuse, as many users turn to the street drug as a cheaper and more available option to prescription opiates.
Offering Naloxone without a Prescription
To address the specific problem of overdoses from heroin and other opioids, Walgreens has also announced it will make the opioid antidote Naloxone available without a prescription. The medication is currently available in Ohio, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, with plans to eventually make it available in 35 states total. The pharmacy chain will need to work with individual states to ensure availability of Naloxone is in accordance with state regulations.
Naloxone is typically administered by injection or nasal spray and can be given to reverse the effects of heroin and other opioids. The pharmacy will provide full instructions on how to administer the medication when it is purchased, including the need to call 911 since Naloxone is not a substitute for proper medical attention.
Many medical providers believe greater availability of Naloxone will be a positive step in the war against drug abuse. Naloxone, which typically works within 1-2 minutes, knocks the drugs off the brain receptors to restore respiration stopped by the opioid. Most home kits recommend administering a second dose 3-5 minutes after the first if the patient does not respond to the initial dose. There are few side effects associated with Naloxone and there is not potential for this medication to be abused.
Pasadena Recovery Center works with people that are struggling with opioid abuse and dependency. We understand how dangerous these drugs can be and we help people overcome the addition and find new life in recovery. Through residential and outpatient programs, as well as ongoing support after treatment, many of our patients have been able to move past addiction and embrace long-term sobriety.
If you are struggling with opioid abuse, don’t wait to get help. Contact Pasadena Recovery Center today at 866-663-3030 to get the help you need.