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Opioid addiction is a small--but growing--problem in Winneshiek County

Posted: Wed, Apr 12, 2017 11:05 AM

91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Center for Disease Control.  Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled, while deaths from opioids have more than quadrupled.

Luther College Counseling Services' Bobbi-Jo Molokken says Northeast Iowa Behavioral Health in Decorah treated 47 people in 2016 for opioid abuse.  She says the opioid problem is not that big so far in Winneshiek County, but it's growing.

Gundersen Decorah Clinic physician Dr. Janet Ryan says the medical community is responding to the increase in opioid abuse: "There are a lot of efforts being made."  She says doctors have learned to ask a lot of questions and to take steps to make sure opioids aren't being overused.  For instance, painkiller prescriptions are now written on tamper-proof paper or, in many cases, sent electronically directly to a pharmacy.  She says doctors have also begun requiring random drug testing for people who have been put on maintenance painkillers.

Helping Services for Youth and Families community prevention specialist Jen Kimber says the public can help by cleaning out their medicine cabinets.  Because such cabinets are typically not locked, they're "not the best place to keep medicine," says Kimber.  She's urging people to go through their medicine cabinets and take out any unused and unnecessary painkillers.

On April 29th, there will be a prescription medicine recycling event at both Thrifty White Pharmacy and Walmart Pharmacy in Decorah.  Kimber says Donlon's Pharmacy has a prescription medicine recycling service available any time the business is open.