McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 25, 2013

Health watch

New developments in medicine can help keep communities safer


StatePoint

McALESTER — If you’re like many Americans, you may think of methamphetamine, or meth, as just a subject of television dramas. But what you may not realize is that the increasing use of this illegal and highly dangerous drug could be hurting your own community.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), meth use is on the rise — 439,000 Americans ages 12 and older abused the drug in 2011.

Aside from obvious health risks, long-term use of the drug can lead to aggressive behavior, violent crime and domestic disputes. And making meth involves mixing unstable materials leading to fires, explosions and the creation of toxic chemicals.

These concerns, along with the cost of addiction, drug treatment and hazardous waste cleanup, are putting undue economic strain on communities as well as on federal, state and local governments.

But luckily, there are steps everyone can take to help make their communities safer and decrease drug-related incidents.

Treat Congestion Differently

If you suffer from colds or allergies, you have probably noticed the effects of the 2005 Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, which limited the amount of pseudoephedrine (PSE) products you can buy and moved them behind pharmacy counters. Now, thanks to new technologies emerging in the fight against meth, cold and allergy sufferers will soon be able to purchase medicine designed to help make communities safer.

For example, Acura Pharmaceuticals, a company whose sole focus is to improve medicines with unique technologies to address abuse and misuse, is launching Nexafed 30mg pseudoephedrine HCl tablets. Nexafed, which is as effective as leading PSE products at providing nasal congestion relief, has the added benefit of patent-pending Impede technology, a proprietary mixture of inactive ingredients that disrupts the ability to extract and convert PSE into methamphetamine.

Opting for such a medication over many traditional PSE treatments is one big step to limit the availability of a crucial meth ingredient locally. More information is available at www.acurapharm.com.

Check Your Medicine Cabinet

Meth’s ease of availability stems in part from the fact that it can be made at home using PSE extracted from currently available decongestants, along with common household products. So when you’re cleaning out your medicine cabinet, do so carefully. Take your expired cold and flu medications, as well as prescription drugs, to your pharmacy or to a local take-back event. To learn more about these events, visit, www.takebacknetwork.com.

Talk to Your Kids

Healthy decisions start at home. Have a dialogue with your children about the dangers of drug abuse. Encourage them to get involved in activities like sports and music, especially if your work day ends after school ends. Check in with them daily. Dinner around the table is an excellent opportunity for conversation.

Even if dangerous drug abuse seems like a remote problem to you, the production, sale and use of methamphetamine has ramifications that hurt everyone. This is why experts are advising local communities to get involved in fighting back.