Medicine Abuse Month

I know, I know, not another month to celebrate or become aware of a medical issue. But this one is different. Why? Because I would guess everyone has medicine in their homes.

You may not smoke, don’t know anyone with breast cancer, or been a victim of domestic violence, but you probably have taken some sort of medicine in your life. I have — and for a range of things. Just for being a woman, I take a “woman’s vitamin” that meets the daily requirements for all the vitamins and minerals I supposedly need.

Midol for when I become Superwoman. Over-thecounter generic migraine pills for when the computer screen starts to drill a hole in my head.

Melatonin to help me sleep because that same hole is still full of work thoughts.

With fall allergy season upon us, I will be stocking up on cold and sinus medication and cough medicine. My “have on hand in case I need it” medicines are sinus headache medicine, Tylenol, Aleve and Advil.

After a recent knee replacement surgery, I have one Vicodin left — I’m saving it for that one day that can’t be helped by over-the-counter pills.

And a new bottle of Cephalezin — an antibiotic that I have to take before any dental visit.

With all these pills in my cabinet, one may wonder if I am abusing this medication, am a pill addict, or have a seriously messed up body — maybe all three. You don’t hear too much about people abusing vitamins. I admit there was a time in my life when I took Midol like candy, but it was completely necessary to maintain sanity. Sleep aid medication can be dangerous if you take them before driving or mix with other depressants like alcohol.

Cold and decongestant medication has gone through a “placement” change where you have to ask for the special boxes behind the pharmacist. Why? One of the ingredients, pseudoephedrine, can be used to make meth, a powerful and highly addictive stimulant. My cough medicine has 10 percent alcohol and DMX — I thought I grabbed the other kind that is not abused by young people.

After looking up Cephalezin on Google, it seems that it is not a medication that is abused. My one little Vicodin pill, alone in its bottle, is the pill to watch.

While Vicodin relieved some of my postop pain, it did not lead to an uncontrollable addiction or enjoyable high. It did what it was prescribed to do and I took it as prescribed. However, the medical crisis is people — young people — taking and abusing large number of opioids to get high, thus creating very strong addictions.

Besides the opioids, young people have been abusing depressants, stimulants, tranquilizers and cough medicine.

Thus, you have another “National Month” calling for action.

Safely store your medication — lock them up if you have to. Count your pills — if one pill is left, make sure it is one and not “none.” Dispose of them if you don’t need them — some medication can get “old” and won’t “work.” Bring them to a proper drug drop box in one of the five police stations or take them to a Take-Back Medication Day. Don’t accept a prescription from a doctor if you don’t need it or aren’t going to use it. Tell the doctor the number of pills you want — not the number of pills he/she wants to give you.

MaryAdele Revoy is a member of HSC2020 MHSA Committee and is a professional recovery coach and community change consultant