There is no one cause of the opioid epidemic, which is hitting Ohio especially hard. The issue is very complex.
However, we know that many people become addicted to opioids after being prescribed painkillers. The prescription drugs hydrocodone and oxycodone can be gateway drugs to heroin and fentanyl, among others.
When are these medications prescribed? Commonly, after the most common inpatient surgery performed in the United States: Cesarean sections.
Every year, 1.3 million C-sections are performed in the U.S. After a C-section, the patient may be prescribed opioid painkillers. Unfortunately, there is no standard dosage and little research on much medication is actually needed following a C-section.
When excess medication is prescribed, many things can happen. The mother could get hooked on opioid painkillers. The medication could end up in the wrong hands. Friends, family members, children – anyone with access to the medicine cabinet – could end up with the medication. This could have disastrous effects.
A study by the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women recovering from a C-section were prescribed twice as many painkillers as they used to be. The study also revealed that as the result of being prescribed more painkillers, they were also taking more painkillers – regardless of pain levels.
This is a complex issue with many implications. Opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled in the past 15 years, and the over-prescription of painkillers after a C-section is certainly adding fuel to the fire.
What action should be taken to address this issue? Please weigh in with your thoughts, below.
How to safely dispose of medication
If you have unused or unwanted pills and wish to dispose of them, here are some safe places and methods of doing so:
- Locate an authorized collection site for disposal
- If you cannot locate a take-back site, mix pills with used coffee grounds, kitty litter or dirt. Place the mixture in a sealed container or plastic zip bag and dispose with your trash.
When disposing of a pill container, make sure you remove all identifying information.