Pharmacists launch campaign educating people about the dangers of opioids

Posted at 11:00 AM, Apr 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 21:27:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah health leaders unveiled a new plan to help fight opioid overdoses.

Drop in at any pharmacy across the state during the month of May, and you’ll notice stickers on the bottle caps of prescription opioids.

“Every time a patient opens that bottle, they'll see that sticker and be reminded, 'Hey, this is kind of a dangerous medication,” said Greg Jones, Director of the Pharmacy at Harmons, and the Chair of the Utah Board of Pharmacy.

It’s part of a new campaign called, “Talk to Your Pharmacist Month.” The label serves as a cue to talk to your pharmacist about the dangers of taking opioid prescriptions.

“Our bodies can build tolerance to opioids, meaning we need to take more to get the same effect. This drug tolerance can lead to physical dependence, addiction, abuse, and even overdose,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, Deputy State Epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health.

Twenty-four Utahns lose their lives every month to prescription opioid overdoses. The Utah Department of Health and Utah Pharmacy Association are working to prevent deaths in our state. Often times, people don’t recognize what they are.

“If you’re not sure, ask your prescriber, ask your pharmacist when you pick the prescription up, and they can help you better understand,” Jones said.

Health leaders point to their data that shows a troubling trend.

In January of 2016, there were more than 21,000 opioid prescriptions written by 9,000 prescribers. That’s a monthly average of 23 opioid prescriptions per prescriber.

“We also know that females receive more opioid prescriptions than males. Males are prescribed more high dosages," Dunn said.

People underestimate the dangers of opioids.

“They think my doctor gave me this prescription. My pharmacist filled it. I’m gonna be just fine," Jones said. "And they don’t understand how dangerous the medications can be by themselves, and especially taken with other medications."

You can also pick up Naloxone over the counter. It’s a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Here’s information on where and how to get a naloxone kit.

“If you’re prescribed an opioid you can pick that Naloxone kit up for yourself, or if you’re concerned about one of your children or you’re a caregiver for a parent, you can pick up that prescription as well,” Jones said.

Saturday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is National Drug Take Back Day. It’s a good opportunity for you to clean out your medicine cabinets and dispose of the old prescription medications you have lying around.

Click here for drop off locations.