Local pharmacy partners with WA Health Care Authority to address opioid misuse

The “Lock Up Your Meds” program provides free medication locking devices to Friday Harbor residents/patients picking opiod prescriptions

Submitted by Washington State Health Care Authority

In an ongoing effort to combat prescription opioid misuse and prevent overdose deaths, Friday Harbor Drug is partnering with the Washington State Health Care Authority on its “Lock Up Your Meds” program to increase the number of community members safely locking up their prescription opioid medications. The program launched Sept. 1 and will run through December in 15 pharmacies across the state.

Nearly half of people misusing pain relievers, including prescription opioids, get them from a friend or family member. Yet, according to a recent study conducted by HCA, 83% of Washingtonians surveyed know it is important to lock up prescription medications, but only 29% actually do. Simple steps like locking up prescriptions can prevent them from being misused or causing accidental overdoses.

To help address this gap between knowledge and the action of locking up medication, the “Lock Up Your Meds” program supplies pharmacies with free medication locking bags and prescription locking bottles to distribute to patients receiving an opioid prescription.

The program relies on pharmacists having conversations with their patients about the safe storage of opioids. By leaning on the influence and trust pharmacists have in their community, “Lock Up Your Meds” aims to break down the barriers people say prevent them from locking up medications – a key one being lacking a way to store them securely – and drive behavior change through personal conversations.

“We are grateful to all our local pharmacy partners and their commitment to creating safer and healthier communities,” says Sue Birch, HCA Director. “Their efforts are empowering Washington residents with information and actionable ways to prevent opioid misuse in their homes.”

As part of the program, pharmacists at Friday Harbor Drug will engage customers who receive opioid prescriptions in a conversation about the importance of safe storage and will ask them to make a personal commitment to lock up their medications. The program is the first of its kind in the country and has been developed based on a behavior change model researched by Dr. Doug McKenzie-Mohr, which shows that when a person makes a personal commitment (or pledge) to take a specific action, the likelihood of that individual following through with the action increases significantly.

A facet of HCA’s current opioid-misuse prevention campaign, Starts with One, this program takes an innovative approach to involve community members in addressing the opioid epidemic. The program will also include a voluntary evaluation survey for participants in order to measure outcomes with the hope being to expand the program to even more pharmacies over the next few years.

To learn more about the Starts with One campaign, visit GetTheFactsRX.com.

To connect with HCA visit: Facebook, Twitter, www.hca.wa.gov.