The Mosers Are Aiming for Zero Left for the Medicine Cabinet
Guest Post by: Joshua A. Siegel, MD
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 33,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2015. One of the victims of this crisis was Adam Moser, a 27-year-old New Hampshire native who overdosed on fentanyl. His addiction was so well-hidden that his parents, Jim and Jeanne Moser, didn’t even know about it until it was too late.
Unfortunately, Adam’s story isn’t a rare one. The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc all over the country, with prescriptions accounting for nearly half of the overdoses in 2015. Most commonly, patients are prescribed opioids like Vicodin®, OxyContin® and Percocet® for pain management after surgery, but these can easily fall into the wrong hands without proper storage and disposal.
Studies have shown that most parents aren’t talking to their kids about the dangers of prescription medications. One of the Mosers’ biggest regrets is not having a conversation with their son about the dangers of opioids. “We used to keep our medicine in the kitchen,” said Jim. “And I thought, how did we miss that? Then I realized, we never absorbed that information ourselves because we just didn’t know.”
But Jim and Jeanne have taken action to prevent other parents from having the same regret. They’ve started the Zero Left for the Medicine Cabinet campaign, also known as Zero Left, to educate the public about the dangers of opioids and encourage the healthcare industry to inform patients of the proper ways to store and dispose of medications.
Statistically, 80% of heroin and fentanyl users begin their journey with prescription pills, just like Adam. Zero Left’s ultimate goal is to cut off this supply for people just like Adam.
The Zero Left campaign states, “Zero Left is not a uniquely pioneering initiative, but an initiative that highlights a few of the basic ways the healthcare industry can help with the current opioid crisis. In the end, it is about having zero pills left for the medicine cabinet.”
The healthcare industry is notorious for over-prescribing medication, which has encouraged the opioid epidemic to grow. A primary issue is the massive amount of pills that are first prescribed, which sets a pain level expectation for patients who might not even need to use prescription pills during their recovery. The Mosers’ efforts will also lead to the creation of useful materials for doctors to share with patients who are prescribed opioid medications. These materials will include information on the risks and side effects of the medications and how to safely store and dispose of pills. Healthcare professionals also need to take the time to talk to their patients before and after prescribing opioids. Simply asking “How many pills have you used so far?” in follow up appointments starts a conversation and helps inform patients about how they can correctly dispose of the pills they don’t need.
The Mosers are also encouraging healthcare facilities to distribute Deterra Drug Deactivation Systems for safe, proper pill disposal. Medication disposal displays will also soon be present at select hospitals and other designated take-back locations in New Hampshire, and the Mosers are hoping that these systems will eventually become staples in every healthcare facility.
When children understand the risks of prescription drug abuse, they are far less likely to develop dangerous habits. Jim and Jeanne hope the Zero Left campaign leads to more awareness for parents and children, and that physicians reconsider the amount and frequency in which they prescribe opioids.
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Joshua A. Siegel, MD is an Orthopaedic Surgeon and is the Sports Medicine Director of Access Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics.
He is a founding member of Northeast Surgical Care, a multi-specialty ambulatory surgical center.
Dr. Siegel is also a US Olympic Committee team physician, a US ski team physician and covers USGA and PGA tour events. Dr. Siegel lives with his family in Exeter, NH.
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