Public Health Perspectives: Disposing Of Unused Meds; Anxiety, Worry And The Election Season
Opinion and editorial writers offer their thoughts on these issues.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Secure And Destroy Unused Medication
St. Louis is experiencing a public health emergency. This year, we are on track to break the record for the number of fatal prescription opioid and heroin overdoses. And while this problem doesn’t exist just in our city or just in Missouri; it’s here, and it’s killing our kids. Four of every five heroin users started with and became addicted to prescription opioids (e.g. hydrocodone, oxycodone, OxyContin, etc.), and almost all of those cases started with medication that was appropriately prescribed to someone else. While opioid pain medications are important for patients recovering from surgery or suffering from chronic pain, far too often, they are diverted and misused by family, friends or other acquaintances. Unlocked, unsecured prescription pain medication poses a terrible and measurable risk, especially to young people. A recent review of federal data found that the odds of a young adult becoming addicted to opioid medications increased 37 percent over the last decade. (Amy Tiemeier and Howard Weissman, 10/25)
The New York Times:
The Epidemic Of Worry
We’ve had a tutorial on worry this year. The election campaign isn’t really about policy proposals, issue solutions or even hope. It’s led by two candidates who arouse gargantuan anxieties, fear and hatred in their opponents. As a result, some mental health therapists are reporting that three-quarters of their patients are mentioning significant election-related anxiety. An American Psychological Association study found that more than half of all Americans are very or somewhat stressed by this race. (David Brooks, 10/25)
The New York Times:
Don’t Lock ’Em Up. Give ’Em A Chance To Quit Drugs.
By the time the police found him smoking crack in a Seattle parking garage one afternoon in late 2013, Roland Vasquez had been arrested more than two dozen times. Once a paralegal in his hometown, San Antonio, Vasquez says he started using drugs about 16 years ago after helping to negotiate bail for a dealer — and receiving a half-pound of heroin as a “thank you.” A father of three young children, he moved to Seattle in the mid-2000s to be closer to his own dad and farther from the people who got him hooked. But his cravings soon overwhelmed him, and he resigned himself to cycling between jail and the streets. (Caroline Preston, 10/25)
Tobacco Taxes Work, But Only If They’re High
When smoking costs more, more people quit. That’s why higher cigarette taxes are almost always good policy, for smokers and the public health, too. There’s a catch, though -- and it’s one that voters in four states should keep in mind as they consider ballot initiatives next month to raise cigarette taxes: Sin taxes work only if they’re high enough. Voters in California, Colorado and North Dakota are being asked to raise state taxes to well over $2 a pack. Then there’s Missouri, where voters will choose from two increases so meager that they make a mockery of the very idea of sin taxes. (10/24)
After 3 Decades Of Seizures, Life With My New Brain
Research has shown that epilepsy surgery is relatively safe. Most patients no longer have seizures afterwards. Pre-op testing can predict how patients will fare. Temporal resections -- where the piece of the brain’s temporal lobe that is causing the seizures is removed — are the most common type of epilepsy surgeries. (Letitia Browne-James, 10/24)