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Opioid Misuse

In 2018, Smilin’ Steves Pharmacies was proud to partner with the Vermont Department of Health as well as local organizations to raise awareness about cautionary issues with Opioid use and misuse. We care about our patients and our communities and we are dedicated to doing what we can to help everyone stay as safe and healthy as possible.

Prescription opioids are prescribed by health care providers to help manage moderate to severe pain. For many, they can provide needed relief from either acute pain (ie. a sudden injury or surgery) or chronic pain (long term injury or illness). But taking prescription opioids, even as directed by your doctor, can also be potentially dangerous.

Our goal is to provide information and raise awareness about the risks of prescription opioid use such as unpleasant side effects, dependence, misuse, addiction, and overdose. We also want to share strategies for safely storing and properly disposing of unused/unwanted medications.

Beginning in March, 2019, if you pick up an opioid prescription at any of our four Smilin Steve Pharmacy locations (Rutland Pharmacy, Ludlow Pharmacy, Springfield Pharmacy, and River Street Pharmacy), you will notice the following changes to how you receive your medication:

 

OPIOID BOOKLET
When you pick up your opioid prescription a Pharmacist will hand you your medication, as well as this booklet. This booklet easily and conveniently highlights important information about your prescription such as what it is and how it works, risks of use and misuse, proper storage and safe disposal, and much more.

To download a copy of this booklet from your computer, just click on
the image to the right.

 

PRESCRIPTION PACKAGING CHANGES

Taking multiple medications can sometimes get confusing, especially when the bottles all look alike! Mistakenly taking too much of a medication can be very dangerous, and this is true for prescription opioids. The changes we have made to the medication packaging is designed to help you easily recognize your opioid prescription, helping you to remember how important it is to use it with caution and store it safely. You will notice:

  • New Red Caps: Our prescription bottles have white caps, so if you receive a red cap on your medication bottle, you will know that your prescription is an opioid and should be used and stored with caution.
  • Cautionary Label: Your opioid prescription will now have a caution label that encourages you to learn more about opioid use at www.cdc.gov/RxAwareness
  • DEA Schedule Identification: All opioids are controlled drugs. The DEA ranks them according to their potential for misuse, addiction, and risk of harm. Label instructions for opioids will now include the prescriptions DEA Schedule identity (Schedule II-V). See the opioid booklet above for a description of each Schedule.
  • Expanded Content Label: On top of the red cap will be a fold out label that includes additional information about your medication, a Dosage Chart to help you keep track of when you take your medication, as well as a QR code that will direct you to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention prescription opioid informational website.

 

FREE PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION MAIL-BACK ENVELOPE
For patients who are receiving a specific opioid medication for the first time or to address an acute episode of pain, a free prescription medication mail-back envelope may be provided. These envelopes may be used to return any medication that is no longer needed or wanted. It is often the case that patients who receive an opioid prescription do not actually end up needing to use all of it. These envelopes are a smart way to make sure that those leftover prescriptions are not used for purposes other than intended, or by people that they were not prescribed for. If you receive a medication mail-back envelope, there will be a very brief postage-paid survey attached to it that we encourage everyone to complete. The survey is completely anonymous and will help us evaluate the effectiveness of this program.

 

PHARMACIST CONSULTATION
Our Pharmacists will provide you with the booklet and mail-back envelope (if applicable) at the time that you pick up your prescription opioid. They will very briefly review the new materials and are available to assist you in any way you need. We encourage you to share any questions or concerns you may have. We are here to make your healthcare as easy and comfortable as possible!

Did you know that taking certain medications at the same time as an opioid may increase your risk of serious, potentially fatal, side effects? Doctors and pharmacies work hard to prevent negative interactions between medications. The more you know about potential interactions, the better!

Benzodiazepines, which are a class of medication that are often used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, and other medical conditions, are not recommended for use with opioids. Both impact the central nervous system, which can lead to accidental overdose and slowed or stopped breathing. In fact, 30% of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines.
Starting in March, 2019, to help raise awareness about this potentially serious interaction, anyone who picks up a benzodiazepine prescription (whether they also use opioids or not) will receive an informational flyer about it. You will also notice a new cautionary sticker.

Never make changes to or discontinue any medication without talking to your health care provider.

 

To download a copy of this flyer from your computer, just click on the image to the right.

 

 

 

 

In some circumstances, and with certain conditions, your health care provider may consider the possible side effects of taking a benzodiazepine when you are also using an opioid at the same time, and determine that your need for the medication outweighs the risks. If this is your situation, there are things you can do to help keep yourself safe:

  • Never take more of any medication than prescribed. Use only as directed.
  • If taking a benzodiazepine and an opioid, do not take them while alone, especially before you know how they will affect you.
  • Keep naloxone (Narcan link this to www.narcan.com) with you and tell an adult who is with you how to use it. Narcan can be used to try to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
  • Know the signs of overdose.


For more information about our Rx Abuse Prevention initiatives, choose one of the links below: