Survey Finds Prescription Drug Abuse A Danger For Rim Country Seniors

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A recent survey of local seniors found most do not know where to access substance abuse services and a majority don’t feel like they have an active role in the community.

The Community Prevention Council conducted the survey over three months and say those answers pose a real concern.

On a positive note, nearly 80 percent of seniors said they do know how to safely dispose of unwanted medications.

This is likely due to the monthly “Dump the Drugs” event at the Senior Center, which continues to grow in popularity, said Holly Crump, with the Community Prevention Council in Payson.

The coalition hopes to build on this success by supporting installation of a medication return box at the Payson Police Department.

The box will be accessible 24 hours a day, allowing easier return of unused prescription drugs, Crump said.

In addition, the coalition plans to collaborate with Eastern Area Health Education Center (EAHEC) to fund and support the program.

Crumb said the prevention coalition is also working to decrease the misuse of prescription drugs and alcohol, especially among seniors.

“Currently, the group intends to create an awareness that older adults are at risk of alcohol and substance abuse and that most binge drinking occurs in people 55 years and older,” she said.

“Additionally, Payson has a high incidence of grandparents raising grandchildren and there is an increase in teens using prescription drugs, which they may be taking from older adults without their knowledge.”

The local coalition is made up of community stakeholders from a variety of sectors. At an initial meeting, 28 community leaders agreed there is a need for collaborative coalition that focuses on Payson’s seniors and their misuse/abuse of alcohol and prescription medications.

For more information on the Community Prevention Council Sub-Committee of the Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens, call (520) 836-2758 or (800) 293-9393.

The Community Prevention Council continues to offer Dump the Drugs program to the community

This event is held the second Tuesday of every month at the Senior Center, 514 W. main St., Payson, from 11 a.m. to noon.

Bring your old, outdated, no longer needed prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. We will dispose of your medications legally and safely.

The next Dump date is Nov. 13. Please contact Debra Shewey at (928) 595-1199 for more information.

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