NRVCS, Good Sam partner to prevent misuse of prescription drugs

NRVCS Community Wellness & Outreach Coordinator Mike Wade (left) presents a supply of medication disposal pouches to Good Sam CEO Aaron Housh and Dr. Jennifer Easterday, Medical Director. (Photo – Cindy Adams/Good Sam)

CHRISTIANSBURG – NRVCS (New River Valley Community Services) and Good Samaritan (or “Good Sam”) have announced a joint effort to help prevent the misuse of prescription medications.

Officials with the two agencies are working together to help eliminate unused or expired pain medications from homes, also known as opioids, as overdose numbers continue to escalate in the region.

NRVCS, the region’s public provider of behavioral health services, has donated 50 medication disposal pouches to Good Sam, which will be distributed to families in the New River Valley who utilize Good Sam’s hospice and advanced illness care services. The pouches include a carbon-based product that neutralizes the active ingredients of the prescription opioid medication when water is added.

“Although prescription opioids can be effective in managing pain, they also have the potential to be highly addictive,” notes Mike Wade, Community Wellness and Outreach Coordinator for NRVCS. “Misuse of those medications can be incredibly dangerous.”

In fact, Wade adds that data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicates that nearly one-third of people age 12 and over who used drugs for the first time began by using a prescription drug for non-medical purposes.

“Good Sam is grateful to partner with NRVCS in the safe disposal of opioid medications,” said Aaron Housh, Good Sam’s CEO. “We appreciate their efforts to make this resource available to not only our patients and families, but the New River Valley community.”

In addition to eliminating risk of misuse or accidental overdose, Wade explains that using the medication disposal pouches to eliminate prescription opioids also addresses environmental concerns.

“I think many of us are under the impression – or perhaps have even been told – to flush medications down the toilet when we no longer need them,” adds Wade. “However, studies have shown that when they are flushed down a toilet or drain, these medications often end up in our rivers, streams, lakes and underground sources of drinking water.”

“Improperly disposing of medication not only puts our health at risk, it can also damage the health of aquatic ecosystems and the animals that inhabit them,” Wade says. “So, as important as it is to rid our homes of unused or expired medications, it’s critical that we do so in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner.”

As an extension of the partnership with NRVCS, Good Sam has become actively involved in the five local community prevention coalitions that NRVCS facilitates throughout the New River Valley. Each of the coalitions includes community leaders who work together to address overall community wellness, including issues related to substance use and mental health disorders. To learn more about the coalition in your community, email Mike Wade at mwade@nrvcs.org.

Individuals who may be struggling with an addiction to prescription medications or other substances can get help by calling NRVCS at 540-961-8400.

Good Sam is the only non-profit, community-based hospice serving southwest Virginia. To learn more about their services for advanced illness and hospice care, visit goodsam.care.