MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 24, 2018 — Today, public health leaders and community members gathered in Memphis for a thoughtful discussion around the dangers associated with prescription opioid misuse and abuse. The event, hosted by Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA) and Innovate Memphis, brought together representatives from Memphis Fire Department, Shelby County Health Department and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) to raise awareness about the local response to the opioid crisis and educate the community about the rights, risks and responsibilities associated with opioid use.
“Patient education and engagement plays a critical role in preventing the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids,” said David Stern, MD, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at UTHSC. “When patients understand the rights, risks and responsibilities associated with opioid treatments, they are more likely to safely use, store and properly dispose of these pain medications — mitigating the likelihood of abuse and misuse of any unused pills.”
AAOA is an educational initiative bringing together stakeholders to raise awareness and collaborate on efforts to prevent opioid misuse and abuse in communities nationwide. AAOA partners with organizations at the local, state and national levels to foster communication, provide educational materials and discuss new approaches to addressing the opioid crisis.
“As first responders, we see the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic every day,” said Pamela Kiestler, Deputy Chief of Memphis Emergency Medical Services. “Convening all facets of the healthcare community to discuss how we can prevent prescription opioid abuse through education and awareness is critical to making an impact in this crisis.”
In addition to outlining existing state and local efforts that focus on prevention, event participants took part in a demonstration of the best practices around safely storing and disposing of unused and expired prescription opioids.
“Programs that educate patients and the public about how to safely store and dispose of prescription opioids, like Shelby County’s ‘Count It, Lock It, Drop It’ campaign, make a difference in combating this epidemic,” Courtney Tipper, Public Health Coordinator with the Shelby County Health Department. “We look forward to collaborating with AAOA and other Memphis-area organizations to assist in providing resources and support to county residents to prevent opioid misuse and abuse.”
AAOA and its partners have developed educational resources and tools with recommendations on how to safely use, store and dispose of opioids and other medicines. Additional materials about the rights, risks and responsibilities associated with prescription opioid use is available at www.AgainstOpioidAbuse.org.
“AAOA is committed to making a meaningful difference in reversing the opioid crisis, but we cannot do it alone,” said John Parker, Senior Vice President of Communications for the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, the founding member of AAOA. “By collaborating with local partners and engaging in thoughtful discussions like the one we had today, we are making great strides to help reduce the misuse, overuse and abuse of prescription opioids in the Memphis community.”
For all press inquiries, please contact Press@AgainstOpioidAbuse.org.
Dr. David Stern, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at UTHSC, discusses the importance of educating patients and empowering them to engage in conversations about prescription opioids.
About Allied Against Opioid Abuse
Allied Against Opioid Abuse is a national education and awareness initiative to help prevent abuse and misuse of prescription opioids. Founded by the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, the initiative is a collaborative effort with diverse partners across the pharmaceutical supply chain, as well as organizations that are experts in public health and healthcare, including Alliance for Aging Research, American Physical Therapy Association, Caregiver Action Network, Healthcare Leadership Council, Mental Health America, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Council on Patient Information and Education and the PA Foundation. Our goal is to contribute to solving the opioid crisis in a meaningful way by educating patients about their rights, risks and responsibilities. To learn more, visit www.AgainstOpioidAbuse.org or follow us on Twitter: @AAOA_Tweets.