By: Eric Baranowski, KYC’s Substance Use Prevention Services (SUPS) Team Lead
With National Recovery Month in our rearview mirror and with the winter months on the horizon, now more than ever is a good time to recognize the importance of using safe prescription medication practices. During the colder months, so many people suffer from seasonal depression. As we begin to cope with the feelings that come with cold weather, it’s important to address how our medications practices can keep our community safe.
Since the pandemic started, feelings of anxiety and depression have certainly increased. Nirmita Panchal of the American Counseling Association states that today, 1 in 4 American adults report feelings of anxiety or depression. People are feeling stressed, and the rate of using substances to cope is increasing too. In the same study, Panchal reports that 13% of U.S. adults reported a new or increase in Substance Use due to COVID-19-related stress. While the data is alarming, it hits home at the community level.
According to the 2020 Illinois Youth Survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th-grade students in Cook County Non-Chicago:
- 9% report there is little to no risk when using prescription medications not prescribed to them.
- 20% report it would be “sort of,” or “very,” easy to get prescription drugs not prescribed to them.
- 52% report their parents have not talked with them about using opioids for non-medical reasons.
There is a lack of information for students to learn about the implications of using prescription medications for non-medical reasons. It starts with safe medication practices at home: use medications as directed; store medications safely; dispose of medications properly.
With more adults struggling with mental health, the safe use of prescription medications must be part of the conversation. Drug Take Back Day is a nationwide initiative that promotes safe disposal of prescription medication. Occurring in October and April every year, Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a convenient way for people to dispose of their prescription medication, instead of having mountains of empty or expired pill bottles in their medicine cabinets.
Twice a year, Kenneth Young Center partners with the Elk Grove Police Department to promote the initiative. This year on Saturday, October 23rd, from 10 AM — 2 PM, meet us out there again! Last year we collected 115 pounds of medications. While we’re there, we share the message that medications can be dropped off year-round, not just twice a year. We have a collaboration with the Palatine Police Department in the works and are planning to be at that location on the same day, at the same time.
While we love to show our support by being out in our community, we are working to obtain our own drop-box at our Elk Grove office, located on Rohlwing Road, in hopes of making the event more accessible. This initiative can only grow stronger and make our community safer with more community members involved.
We would love to see you on October 23rd, so please be on the lookout for more information by following our Communities for Positive Youth Development Coalition pages (@cpyd.coalition) on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Panchal, N., Kamal, R., & Cox, C. (2021). The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental
Health and Substance Use. Kaiser Family Foundation. Published. https://www.kff.org/coronaviru…
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