Monday, February 13, 2017
Minnesota and Wisconsin Officials Give "Dose of Reality" To Prevent Prescription Painkiller Abuse
St. Paul, MN—Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, and Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo joined forces today to combat the prescription opioid epidemic by giving a “Dose of Reality”—the name for their public awareness campaign—to prevent prescription painkiller abuse. The Centers for Disease Control calls prescription drug abuse the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, with deaths from prescription painkillers now outpacing deaths from heroin.
“Misuse of these drugs can be dangerous and even deadly. Our aim is to raise awareness about how to safely use, store, and dispose of opioid prescription painkillers,” said Attorney General Swanson. She added: “Minnesota is pleased to join forces with General Schimel and our neighbors in Wisconsin to combat this epidemic, which knows no boundaries.”
"Prescription drug abuse is an issue that stretches beyond state lines and I'm excited to partner with Attorney General Swanson on bringing a Dose of Reality to Minnesota," said Attorney General Schimel. "I look forward to working together to make both of our states stronger and safer."
“This scourge has hit Anoka County particularly hard, and it’s affecting so many families here. Getting information to the people who want it and, more importantly, who need it, is the best thing that we can do to serve the public.” said Anoka County Attorney Palumbo, whose cousin died last year from an opioid overdose.
These officials were joined by Representative Dave Baker (R-Willmar) and Senator Chris Eaton (D-Brooklyn Center), two of the leading voices in the Minnesota Legislature for combating the opioid epidemic. Both Rep. Baker and Sen. Eaton lost children to drug overdoses.
The Public Awareness Campaign
The Minnesota and Wisconsin websites—DoseofReality.mn.gov and DoseofRealityWI.gov—provide information about the risks of opioid painkillers, how to stop them from falling into the wrong hands, and how to dispose of drugs that are no longer needed. The websites contain interactive maps of nearby drug-disposal locations, including local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies where people can drop off unwanted medication.
Officials also unveiled a 30-second public service announcement video designed to call attention to the website and the dangers of opioid painkiller abuse. Officials are asking television stations, movie theaters, and community forums to air the public service announcement.
Attorney General Schimel previously spearheaded the Dose of Reality campaign for Wisconsin. Swanson and Palumbo, who are co-sponsoring Dose of Reality in Minnesota, thanked Attorney General Schimel for making Wisconsin’s Dose of Reality materials available to Minnesota.
Safe Use, Storage, and Disposal of Painkillers
Prescription painkillers can be beneficial for treating pain when properly prescribed by a licensed professional, used as prescribed, and stored and disposed of safely. They can be dangerous, however, when misused or taken without a proper prescription.
- Dose of Reality on Safe Use. Prescription opioid painkillers are controlled substances that are sold under brand names like OxyContin, Percocet, or Vicodin. They are susceptible to addiction and abuse because they trigger chemical processes in the brain that create intense feelings of pleasure. Some people become addicted to their own prescribed painkillers, while others misuse painkillers bought on the street or prescribed for someone else. When misused, opioid painkillers can lead to other drug abuse. Nearly 80 percent of heroin users previously abused prescription painkillers. Take medication only as long as it’s needed, don’t take more than directed, and don’t borrow other people’s medications.
- Dose of Reality on Safe Storage. About 70 percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers get them through friends or relatives. Opioid painkillers should be safely secured at home and never shared with someone else.
- Dose of Reality on Safe Disposal. To prevent others from taking drugs prescribed for you, promptly dispose of painkillers that are no longer needed by taking them to a secure disposal location, such as their local pharmacy or law enforcement agency. The Dose of Reality websites have interactive statewide maps of approved disposal locations.
Opioid Painkiller Statistics
- The United States is 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes 80 percent of the world’s opioid painkillers.
- Sales of opioid painkillers have quadrupled since 1999 and so have the number of overdoses from prescription opioids.
- Every 25 minutes, a baby is born with opioid-withdrawal symptoms.
- Emergency rooms treat more than 1,000 people/day for opioid abuse symptoms.
Attorney General Issues Opioid Report Making Policy and Legislative Recommendations to Address Prescription Painkiller Abuse
Attorney General Lori Swanson issued a report on opioid prescription painkillers that makes wide-ranging legislative and policy recommendations to improve and build on Minnesota’s response to the growing prescription painkiller epidemic.