Dracut seniors urged to secure their prescription drugs

The Lowell Sun

Dracut seniors urged to secure their prescription drugs

By Kori Tuitt, ktuitt@lowellsun.com

UPDATED:   08/12/2016 07:44:41 AM EDT

DRACUT -- The number of young people suffering from opioid addiction and overdoses has been on the rise in Massachusetts. But Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said senior citizens should not be left out of the discussion when it comes to safety during this opioid crisis.

Ryan gave a presentation to seniors at the Dracut Senior Center Tuesday, discussing the best way to manage and dispose of prescription drugs, how to avoid the theft of their medications and how to identify the signs of addiction in loved ones.

"We're really trying to take that big approach," Ryan said. "Our hope is that people spread this information."

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, there were five fatal overdoses in Dracut last year.

Ryan talked about identifying signs of an addiction problem, including a change in eating habits, constant scratching and always wearing long-sleeves, despite the weather. If pills, spoons or tinfoil are missing, Ryan said, they could have been stolen to use for drugs.

"If you've got prescriptions in the house, make sure you keep an eye on them," Ryan said. "If you're not taking your medication, you're not getting better."

Sometimes those suffering from addiction will steal the pills and replace what's stolen with other, similar-looking pills. Thus, securing medications is essential.

Ryan advised seniors to count not only their prescription pills weekly, but also those for any pets.

Not holding onto medication no longer need is another step seniors should take, said Ryan.

"Get it out of your house. Don't leave medication around in your house," Ryan said. "Don't put it in the trash, don't flush it down the toilet. We have provided prescription drop-off boxes at the police departments."

Family members and friends are not the only people who can steal prescription pills. Ryan urged residents to be mindful of people who come to do work on or in the house and even those who may be touring an open house.

"I know lots of people leave their medication right in plain sight so you won't forget to take it," Ryan said. "Don't leave that out when you have people in the house, even people that you think you know."

Dracut Council on Aging Director Bethany Loveless said there were a number of seniors who wanted to see the presentation, but decided against it because of the stigma attached to opioid issues. She's working with the DA's office to have a video of the presentation available on Dracut Public Access TV for those who did not attend.

"We were so happy to have District Attorney Ryan here," Loveless said. "This is an example of the variety of activities at the Dracut Senior Center."

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter and Tout @KoriTuitt.

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_30237188/dracut-seniors-urged-secure-their-prescription-drugs#ixzz4IAbIjkMd

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