“The problem is so big that deaths related to overdose now outpace homicides, suicides and car accidents,” says Dr. Jeffrey T. Hodrick about the opioid abuse crisis that claimed the lives of some 1,600 Tennesseans last year. “So, as physicians, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What can I do?’”

“Crush the Crisis,” was the answer.

The orthopedic surgeon at Southern Joint Replacement Institute (SJRI) helped spearhead the event as part of the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Individuals are invited to drop off unused opioid prescriptions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 28 at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville.

“Our goal for ‘Crush the Crisis’ is to bring awareness to the dangers of opioid addiction and increase awareness on proper prescription disposal,” said Dr. Hodrick, who came away with the idea to change addiction behaviors after attending a pain management summit. “Opioid addiction can happen to anyone and we are providing this drop off opportunity confidentially and anonymously.”

TriStar Centennial, with the assistance of the Metro Nashville Police Department and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), will safely dispose of pain reliever patches, pills, and capsules including, but not limited to, hydrocodone (Norco, Lortab, Vicodin), oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), tramadol (Ultram), codeine, fentanyl (Duragesic), morphine, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and oxymorphone (Opana).

Patient and public education about the importance of properly disposing of unused medication are key to breaking the chain of abuse.

“The concern is a large number of patients hold on to their medications long after they are no longer needed, and they can fall into the hands of children or grandchildren,” Dr. Hodrick told us.

Prescription opioid use is a significant risk factor or gateway to heroin addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 86 percent of young, urban injection drug users had used opioid pain relievers non-medically prior to using heroin. Their three main sources for obtaining the opioids were family, friends or personal prescriptions.

Dr. Hodrick and his colleagues also are implementing pain management strategies to effectively reduce the need to prescribe opioid medications for their orthopedic patients. For instance, administering changes in the anesthesia that provides regional pain relief in the surgical site post-surgery or prescribing anti-inflammatory medications combined with non-narcotic pain pills are proving successful in significantly lowering pain level while the patient regains function.

Even eliminating or drastically reducing the use of opioid medications for pain management can actually enhance recovery time, says Dr. Hodrick, and without the negative side effects often experienced with opioid prescriptions.

Most prescription medications have instructions for disposal or you can check with your pharmacist if the information is not provided.

Come “Crush the Crisis” on Saturday by properly disposing of unwanted or expired prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.

Approximately 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. “Crush the Crisis” will take place from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 28.   The collection site will be located on the street level of the Heart & Vascular Center, corner of 23rd Avenue and Patterson Street.  Complimentary t-shirts will be given to the first 100 participants.