Local Hospice Joins Effort to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

Cypress BasinTyler, TX– 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 bags are provided by the Northeast Texas Coalition Against Substance Abuse.

“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 simply puts the medication in the bag, 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 leftover medication and worry about how to properly dispose of it. 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 to be abused.”

The bags will be distributed in all the counties the coalition covers: Bowie, Cass, Franklin, Morris and Titus counties.

The coalition is able to provide the bags as part of the Texas Targeted Opioid Response grant.

About 63,000 people were killed by overdoses 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 kind of 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 the state.

“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.

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