HopeRx is a community-based prescription drug abuse initiative centered on education, prevention and treatment. Building upon the success of the Project Lazarus model, HopeRx has been developed by Henderson County Partnership for Health as a community collaborative to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drug abuse in Henderson County and help identify effective environmental strategies for prevention as well as treatment options.
HopeRx is based on a public health model with the premise that drug overdose deaths are preventable and that all communities are ultimately responsible for their own health.
• Raise public awareness of the problem of overdose from prescription drugs.
• Educate the Community to recognize and avoid the dangers of misuse/abuse of prescription drugs.
• Provide Diversion Control opportunities to reduce the presence of unused medications in society and keep needed prescribed drugs in the proper hands.
• Encourage Hospital Emergency Department policies to encourage safe prescribing of controlled substances and provide meaningful referrals for chronic pain and addiction.
• Find effective treatment options.
• Find solutions for Harm Reduction, including access to the antidote Naloxone, used to opiate overdose deaths.
For more information, visit www.hope-rx.org.
Opioids caused the highest proportion of drug overdose deaths in Henderson County and in the State. This category includes Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Morphine, Codeine, and related drugs. Henderson County's rates are higher than the State's for these overdoses. Abuse of prescribed medicines often begins with legitimate use. Pain medication, prescribed for a variety of common reasons including back pain or surgery, caesarean sections, or even dental procedures, carries the highest risk for dependence. Over-prescribing, doctor shopping, and kids having access to prescription drugs in their parents' and grandparents' medicine cabinets are all contributing to the problem.
The number of Community Survey participants that indicated they had taken a prescription drug that was not theirs was higher in Henderson County than the regional average. In listening sessions, many Henderson County residents expressed concern about the misuse of prescription medications. Participants perceived an increase in the availability of prescription medications and a concern that the medications did not always remain in the hands of the person to whom they were prescribed. According to the Henderson County Sheriff's Office:
Henderson County has a large elderly population due to a favorable climate and regional location for retirees. Individuals age 65 and older make up 24.5% of the population, compared to 14.7% statewide. The county also has a very low non-white population. According to the 2014 US Census, the estimated population has grown to 111,149; 93% of the population is white and 3.4% is African-American. In 2014, Hispanics (of any race) made up 9.9% of the county population.
Older adults in our community are often at higher risk of substance abuse due to taking multiple medications for multiple illnesses. Unfortunately, they are also frequently victims of crimes associated with the theft of those drugs. In addition, those who have had a history of substance abuse, chronic pain or are living with mental health problems are also at-risk populations. Low-income, uneducated and unemployed individuals are frequently at risk for developing substance use issues, and there is often co-occurrence with homelessness.
The Healthy NC 2020 focus area that closely aligns with Henderson County's Substance Abuse priority is the reduction of the percentage of individuals aged 12 years and older reporting any illicit drug use in the past 30 days.