SEATTLE — Did you know that opioids are now one of the leading causes of injury-related deaths in our state? According to the Washington State Health Care Authority, more people die from overdose than they do from car crashes. 130+ people die from opioid overdose every day.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Washington State Health Care Authority, Dr. Charissa Fotinos, talked with us about what opioids are, the dangers opioids can pose to your health, and steps we can take to curb the opioid crisis.
Opioid overdose deaths are avoidable if we take precautions. One of the easiest things you can do is to safely store and dispose of prescribed medications - especially opiates like codeine and oxycodone. 75% of opioid misuse starts when young people try out medication that is easily accessible to them that was prescribed to a friend or family member. (You know, like the ones in your kitchen or medicine cabinet.) Take steps now to safely store your medications:
- Throw them in a locked cabinet or safe and keep the key or combination in a different location
- Don’t store them in your bathroom – this easy access encourages theft and misuse
- Purchase a medication locking bag
- All of these methods are available at hardware and drugstores or online
- When you no longer need your medication or it is expired, you can dispose of it safely at a take-back location near you
This is especially important during COVID-19 as opioid overdoses are expected to increase. In times of economic hardship, high unemployment rates, or when people are facing major stressors like being in close quarters, balancing childcare and work, and worrying about getting sick they can fall into unhealthy behaviors like substance misuse.
Sponsored by the Washington State Health Care Authority and the Starts with One campaign: An effort to educate Washingtonians about the dangers of prescription drug misuse. Learn more and get involved by visiting getthefactsrx.com.