Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Some prescription opioids are made from the plant directly, and others are made by scientists in labs using the same chemical structure. Opioids are often used as medicines because they contain chemicals that relax the body and can relieve pain. Prescription opioids are used mostly to treat moderate to severe pain, though some opioids can be used to treat coughing and diarrhea. Opioids can also make people feel very relaxed and “high” – which is why they are sometimes used for non-medical reasons. This can be dangerous because opioids can be highly addictive, and overdoses and death are common.
Wellness is the pursuit of continued growth and balance in the seven dimensions of wellness. Many people think about “wellness” in terms of physical health only. The word invokes thoughts of nutrition, exercise, weight management, blood pressure, etc. Wellness, however, is much more than physical health. Wellness is a full integration of physical, mental and spiritual well-being. It is a complex interaction that leads to quality of life.
Two-thirds of teens and young adults who report misuse of prescription medicine are getting it from friends, family and acquaintances. Make sure the young people in your life don’t have access to any medications in your home. Follow these three steps to monitor, secure and properly dispose of unused and expired prescription and over-the-counter medicine in your home.
Step 1: Monitor
How aware are you of the prescription medications currently in your home? Would you know if some of your pills were missing? From this day forward, make sure you can honestly answer yes.
Start by taking note of how many pills are in each of your prescription bottles or pill packets, and keep track of refills. This goes for your own medicine, as well as for your kids and other members of the household. If you find you need to refill your medicine more often than expected, that could indicate a problem.
If your child has been prescribed medicine, be sure you control its use by monitoring dosages and refills. You need to be especially vigilant with medicine known to be addictive and commonly misused such as opioids(prescription pain relievers), benzodiazepines (sedatives and anti-anxiety medications) and stimulants (ADHD medications).
Make sure your friends, parents of your child’s friends, neighbors and relatives — especially grandparents — are also aware of the risks. Encourage them to regularly monitor the medicine in their homes as well.
Step 2: Secure
Approach securing your prescriptions the same way you would other valuables in your home, like jewelry or cash. There’s no shame in helping protect those items, and the same holds true for your medicine.
Remove prescriptions from the medicine cabinet and secure them in a place only you know about. If possible, keep all medicine, both prescription and over-the-counter, in a safe place, such as a locked cabinet your teen cannot access.
Step 3: Dispose
Safely disposing of expired or unused medicine is critical to helping protect your kids, family and home. And it decreases the opportunity for visitors in your home, like your kids’ friends, to misuse medicine as well.
The ideal way to do this is by participating in a safe drug disposal program – either a drug take-back day, an ongoing program in your community, a drug deactivation bag, or a drug mail-back program. To find a take-back location or event near you, visit the American Medicine Chest Challenge or the DEA website.
In addition to these tips, we have included one of our flyers that gives great visual suggestions on how to lock up your prescriptions:
Vaping is the term used for smoking e-cigarettes or other similar devices. Vaping or E-Cigarettes have become a popular form of nicotine delivery, especially among teenagers and young adults. E-cigarettes and vaping devices work by heating up a liquid that contains nicotine, which creates a water vapor (or aerosol) that the user breathes in. While inhaling these vapors may not be as harmful as traditional smoking, vaping is still bad for your health.
These devices have a trendy design that doesn’t look or smell like the traditional cigarette, which tends to attract teens and young adults. Because these devices come in different flavorings like cherry or bubblegum, many think they’re just inhaling something that tastes good. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Why is Vaping still bad for you? Scroll down to learn more:
1: Electronic Cigarettes Are Just As Addictive As Traditional Ones
Both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes contain nicotine, which research suggests may be as addictive as heroin and cocaine. What’s worse, says Blaha, many e-cigarette users get even more nicotine than they would from a tobacco product — you can buy extra-strength cartridges, which have a higher concentration of nicotine, or you can increase the e-cigarette’s voltage to get a greater hit of the substance.
2: Research Suggests Vaping is Bad for Your Heart and Lungs
Nicotine is the primary agent in both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and it is highly addictive. It causes you to crave a smoke and suffer withdrawal symptoms if you ignore the craving. Nicotine is also a toxic substance. It raises your blood pressure and spikes your adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack.
Is vaping bad for you? There are many unknowns about vaping, including what chemicals make up the vapor and how they affect physical health over the long term. “People need to understand that e-cigarettes are potentially dangerous to your health,” says Blaha. “Emerging data suggests links to chronic lung disease and asthma, and associations between dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking with cardiovascular disease. You’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that are probably not safe.”
3: Vaping Is Less Harmful Than Smoking, But It’s Still Not Safe
E-cigarettes heat nicotine (extracted from tobacco), flavorings and other chemicals to create an aerosol that you inhale. Regular tobacco cigarettes contain 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic. While we don’t know exactly what chemicals are in e-cigarettes, Blaha says “there’s almost no doubt that they expose you to fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes.”
However, there has also been an outbreak of lung injuries and deaths associated with vaping. As of Jan. 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 60 deaths in patients with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI).
“These cases appear to predominantly affect people who modify their vaping devices or use black market modified e-liquids. This is especially true for vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” explains Blaha.
The CDC has identified vitamin E acetate as a chemical of concern among people with EVALI. Vitamin E acetate is a thickening agent often used in THC vaping products, and it was found in all lung fluid samples of EVALI patients examined by the CDC.
The CDC recommends that people:
- Do not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products
- Avoid using informal sources, such as friends, family or online dealers to obtain a vaping device.
- Do not modify or add any substances to a vaping device that are not intended by the manufacturer.
4: E-Cigarettes Aren’t the Best Tool To Help You Quit Smoking
Although they’ve been marketed as an aid to help you quit smoking, e-cigarettes have not received Food and Drug Administration approval as smoking cessation devices. A recent study found that most people who intended to use e-cigarettes to kick the nicotine habit ended up continuing to smoke both traditional and e-cigarettes.
In the light of the EVALI outbreak, the CDC advises adults who use e-cigarettes for smoking cessation to weigh the risks and benefits and consider use of other FDA-approved smoking cessation options.
5: No Matter The Method, Nicotine Is Addictive
Among youth, e-cigarettes are more popular than any traditional tobacco product. In 2015, the U.S. surgeon general reported that e-cigarette use among high school students had increased by 900%, and 40% of young e-cigarette users had never smoked regular tobacco.
According to research, there are three reasons e-cigarettes may be particularly enticing to young people. First, many teens believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking. Second, e-cigarettes have a lower per-use cost than traditional cigarettes. Finally, vape cartridges are often formulated with flavorings such as apple pie and watermelon that appeal to younger users.
Both youths and adults find the lack of smoke appealing. With no smell, e-cigarettes reduce the stigma of smoking.
One of the biggest concerns among doctors about the rise of vaping is that people who would’ve never smoked otherwise, especially youth, are taking up the habit. This often leads to using traditional tobacco products down the road. Most users also don’t realize that no matter the method, nicotine is still very addictive and can have dangerous effects to their health.
6: The Flavors & Stabalizeres in E-Cigarettes Can Cause Unknown Inflammation to Delicate Lung Tissue
All one has to do is turn on the national news to hear about more and more cases where severe — sometimes irreversible — damage to the lungs, and in extreme cases even death, occurs in teens who were vaping. Adolescents often feel that bad things happen to everyone else, but the risks associated with vaping are real. Many teens are taking things a step further, adding cannabis, CBD oils and other dangerous additives to vaping devices. When patients show up to the emergency department in respiratory distress from vaping, it’s challenging for physicians to treat them. This is due to the difficulty in correctly identifying what they inhaled, especially when they are intubated or unconscious.
Find more resources about vaping at DownAndDirtyLife.com.