Opioids are highly addictive drugs that are, unfortunately, readily available today. About 62 percent of teens who admit taking medication for non-medical reasons say they get drugs from medicine cabinets in their homes.
Individuals will be less likely to become addicted if these drugs are not so accessible. Not only can leftover medications be misused, these dangerous drugs can end up in our lakes, rivers, streams and drinking water. We need easier ways to safely dispose of opioid medications.
In 2016, Edward-Elmhurst Health launched an Opioid Task Force to address the growing epidemic in our community. Since then, we’ve implemented a series of programs, including the opioid denaturing packet initiative, an in-home medication disposal option for patients and community members. It’s a simple three-step process to deactivate leftover drugs in order to prevent drug misuse and protect the environment.
Through a donation from the RX Abuse Leadership Initiative, we recently received 30,000 opioid denaturing packets, which we’re now distributing to patients and community members. Half of the packets are being provided to certain patients, while the other half are being distributed free-of-charge to the general public through the outpatient pharmacy at Edward Hospital or the Walgreens at Elmhurst Hospital.
Another way we’re making it easier to safely dispose of opioids is through our Medication Take-Back program. Community members can drop off unused, unwanted or expired controlled medications in one of our secure medication disposal bins at Edward or Elmhurst Hospital at any time. In 2019, we collected over 530 pounds of discarded medications across both hospitals.
Our other opioid initiatives
Opioid withdrawal symptoms are so intense that it can be difficult for someone to even get started on the road to addiction recovery. For people facing opioid use disorder, we offer a Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) Clinic. Our MAT Clinic provides medication that suppresses withdrawal symptoms and stifles cravings for the drug, while therapy is used to address the underlying trigger for the drug use. This approach has been successful in helping people get their lives back from opioids.
MAT Clinic services are available without a physician’s order to anyone who wants to begin the process of change. A patient can start at the Clinic, or move there after an inpatient, residential or outpatient treatment program at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health. We are now initiating MAT in our Emergency Departments as well, which can be life-changing for patients. Learn more about how MAT can break opioid addiction.
We are also implementing initiatives to reduce the risk of opioid addiction. Edward-Elmhurst Health is one of only two health systems in the Chicago area participating in the Midwest Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) project. Through the ALTO project, we are adopting safe, non-opioid pain alternatives in our Emergency Departments as a first-line therapy for patients with specific pain conditions, with opioids administered only as a second-line treatment option.
Our country’s opioid crisis is far from over, but there is hope. Edward-Elmhurst Health will continue leading the fight to save more lives.
It’s incredibly difficult to overcome this opioid addiction on your own. If you or someone you love is struggling with an opioid addiction, we can help you get your life back. We see hundreds of patients with opioid use disorders come through our doors every year.
Explore services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health or fill out this assessment request form online and one of our team members will contact you. You can also call our Opioid Crisis Hotline at 630-599-7696 and we can help you figure out your next step.
Want to find out your risk for addiction? Take our free online AddictionAware Risk Assessment and get next steps.
Addressing the opioid crisis
How to help someone with an opioid addiction
The short- and long-term dangers of opioid addiction
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