Weekly County Spotlight - Winkler County
Recently across the US, there has been growing attention on what is being referred to as the “opioid epidemic” or “opioid crisis” facing our country. An increasing amount of attention is being paid to opioids, the individuals who use them, and the individuals who prescribe them. In addition, conversation around these medicines and their overdose potential is growing in mainstream media outlets. Given this growing level of attention, we’d like to talk to you a little bit about Region 9’s place in the opioid crisis. Recently, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has released compelling statistics on the opioid crisis. Many people once considered the opioid problem to be largely a problem plaguing the northeast. However, the ASAM’s research suggests that people in the rural south may be more likely to abuse opioids. In fact, Region 9’s very own Odessa was rated number 15 for individuals abusing opioids. One of the recommendations made to help combat this growing problem is to stop or significantly reduce the number of prescriptions being written for opioid painkillers (i.e., Tramadol, Vicodin, etc.). In Texas, approximately 6% of all prescriptions written in 2017 were for opioids. Data collected by the CDC indicates that more than 50 people out of every 100 people in Texas have had an opioid prescription dispense in the past year.
Winkler county is immediately west of Odessa, Texas. It is home to Kermit, Texas and is on the border of Texas and New Mexico. This area is known for being particularly rural and a large oil and gas presence. Winkler county is home to a high volume of oilfield related traffic and small roads not designed for the large amount of traffic traveling them on a daily basis. The population of this county as of the 2010 census was 7,110. This county has the highest opioid prescription rate in Region 9. Where the Texas rate of opioid prescriptions rests at about 6%, Winkler counties prescription rate is at nearly 9%. If every person in Winkler county had only one prescription per person, nearly 640 people would have prescriptions for opioids. This high number of prescriptions indicates that there may be higher rates of abuse in Winkler county than we know about simply because there are more prescriptions.
The Prevention Resource Center acknowledges that many individuals use their prescription pills responsibly and rely on them to perform everyday tasks. However, if you find yourself no longer in need of your prescription medication, we have some recommendations!
Don’t leave your pills in your medicine cabinet! Leaving your pills unattended in a cabinet is a great way for kids, teens, or other adults to gain access to your medicine without you knowing.
Don’t flush your pills or throw them in the trash. Flushing unused or unwanted medicines is very hard on your pipes. In addition, it’s bad for our environment. Throwing these medications away still allows access for people who shouldn’t get a hold of your pills.
Do take your prescriptions to the pharmacy. Many pharmacies will take back old medications, especially controlled substances (like opioids).
Do participate in a drug take back day. These events are hosted regularly by the DEA and they will take all of your medicines back, no questions asked.
Do check out Deterra drug deactivation system. These pouches contain substances which, when mixed with water, render your medications useless. The liquid can then safely be poured down the drain without harming your plumbing or our planet!
If you have any questions or would like any more information or have any questions about opioids, their use, and proper disposal, please let us know. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published August 22, 2018.