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Pharm party peril

Public Pill Drop to educate about dangers of pharmaceutical misuse

By Heidi Wicks

Members of the public will have the opportunity to safely dispose of their expired and unused medications at the School of Pharmacy’s annual Public Pill Drop, as a part of Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM).

“It’s important to safely dispose of medications for a number of reasons,” said Steven Rowe, Class of 2018 and a member of the student PAM organizing committee.

Mr. Rowe has been giving presentations to junior high and high school students throughout March, warning them of the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

He wants to make students aware that dependence on opioids such as codeine, morphine, fentanyl or oxycodone that are sold on the street, develops rapidly.

“Opioids are powerful pain relievers for patients with acute or chronic pain,” he said, adding that ensuring opioids are locked away is always a good idea for those who have been prescribed them.

“Users become trapped in a situation where they pay as much as $80 on the street for a single tablet, just to get out of bed in the morning. Personal relationships and healthy lifestyles deteriorate.”

Two grains of salt

Const. Chad Rogers of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary delivers drug awareness presentations at high schools to both students and parents, as well as to community groups who may come into contact with drugs or persons under the influence of drugs.

He says that fentanyl is a serious issue in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Drug use is a problem here in Newfoundland and Labrador and people should know what effect these substances have. Fentanyl is currently being mixed with more common drugs,” he warned.

“The scary thing is people don’t realize this drug is being mixed into the drug of their choice until it’s too late. Two milligrams of fentanyl, equivalent to two grains of salt, can actually kill the average adult, even more so if the person isn’t used to the effects of an opioid.”

Opioid antidotes available

Dr. Lisa Bishop, interim dean at the school, is pleased that naloxone kits are now available for consumer purchase.

“People don’t understand that a dose a tiny grandmother has been taking regularly could kill her two-hundred pound grandson.” — Dr. Lisa Bishop

She says an antidote to opioid overdose is something most people should have in their homes, especially for those taking opioids or those with teenagers.

“I think about my own daughter and if she was ever accidentally exposed to an opioid at a party, I would want to have a naloxone kit in the house,” she said.

“Many things can affect the way a body responds to opioids. People don’t understand that a dose a tiny grandmother has been taking regularly could kill her two-hundred pound grandson. While it’s imperative that adolescents and parents be educated about the severe and possibly fatal dangers of taking these drugs, it’s also imperative that people know that an antidote is available.”

Naloxone kits are currently available throughout Newfoundland and Labrador and can be ordered through any community pharmacy.

The Public Pill Drop takes place on Sunday, March 19, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Headquarters at 1 Fort Townshend in St. John’s.

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