Realtors taking step to prevent opioid deaths. You can too.

The national opioid epidemic could hit much closer to home than you might think.

Countless individuals have prescription drugs in their medicine cabinets, left over from a long-ago dental surgery or a pesky knee injury.

While you might not think twice about that half-empty vial of painkillers or the expired bottle of codeine cough syrup sitting on the bathroom shelf, those powerful medicines can often serve as the gateway to prescription drug abuse.

Studies consistently demonstrate that a majority of abused prescription drugs are not obtained from dealers on the streets, but rather from family and friends – often without their knowledge. And, research has shown that a majority of children aged 12 to 17 who illegally obtain prescription drugs do so from a parent, friend, or relative’s medicine cabinet.

As a Realtor, I am constantly reminding my clients to secure or dispose of their prescription medications prior to opening their homes for public showings. It’s a small step – but an important step, nonetheless – in helping curb the abuse of prescription drugs in the Triangle.

In 2016, 705 million opioid pills were prescribed in North Carolina — and many of those pills have yet to be consumed. That is why Realtors with the Orange Chatham Association of REALTORs have teamed up with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office to participate in the National Prescription Takeback Day on Oct. 27.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents of Orange and Chatham counties can visit the Orange Chatham Association of REALTORS facility, located at 143 Chatham Downs Drive, Suite 302, in Chapel Hill (corner of U.. 15/501 and Lystra Road), where members of the Sheriff’s Office will be providing a safe, legal, and secure drop-off point for expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

While participating in the National Prescription Takeback Day is one part of the solution, this is an issue that demands our attention every day of the year. Remember, if you receive a prescription medication, don’t share it with anyone, even friends and family members. And, always keep your prescription drugs, particularly opioids, in a protected location.

On average, four North Carolinians die from a medication or drug overdose every day. Don’t let your unused medications create a prescription for disaster — responsibly dispose of your prescription drugs during National Prescription Takeback Day on Oct. 27. Together, we can create fewer opportunities for drug abuse in our community, and we can promote safer home environments throughout the Triangle. That’s a cause we can all get behind.

Patrick Serkedakis is emeritus treasurer of the Orange Chatham Association of REALTORs.

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