Education is preventions greatest tool.
YouthThink has served as the community leader in raising awareness of the dangers of youth access to unauthorized prescription medication. In the past YouthThink hosted several Community Drug Take Back events. We played a role in conjunction with MCMC to have the first Drug Take Back Box installed at the City of The Dalles Police Department. This Take Back Box is still in operation and any individual can drop off unused and or expired medications, no questions asked.
Disposing of medication is just one-step in the overall effort to protect our youth and the overall prevention of drug overdoses. Unfortunately, the most dangerous place in our homes might be the medicine cabinet. For many of us, medicine cabinets or drawers contain our prescription medications. These drugs are very useful for controlling pain and disease, but dangerous when taken in unapproved doses. They can be deadly if taken in combination with other drugs or alcohol or left unsecured for others to access. Even over-the-counter medicines such as some cough syrups have become targets for individuals to combine with flavored sodas for a quick yet very dangerous high.
In 2020, YouthThink, in conjunction with the North Central Public Health District, received a grant from the Oregon Health Authority to develop a strategic plan to help prevention drug overdoses in our area.
Some of the key strategies include the following:
Increase knowledge and accessibility of Naloxone/Narcan. Naloxone/Narcan is a safe and effective way to reverse the potentially deadly side effects of an opioid overdose.
Facilitate the adoption of local law enforcement and other first responders to utilize the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program. ODMAP provides near real-time suspected overdose surveillance data across jurisdictions to support public safety and public health efforts to mobilize an immediate response to a sudden increase, or spike in overdose events. It links first responders and relevant record management systems to a mapping tool to track overdoses to stimulate real-time response and strategic analysis across jurisdictions.
Facilitate a regional Overdose Prevention Task Force that looks at local data and develops strategies and policies to assist in a coordinated effort to raise awareness and prevent future drug overdoses.
YouthThink is also involved in the Educate Before You Medicate effort. To learn about the Ten Questions to Ask About Your New Medication click on the following link. Thanks to The University of Kentucky – College of Agriculture for this helpful resource. https://johnson.ca.uky.edu/files/educate_before_you_medicate.pdf