October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month and that holds a special meaning to Cardinal Health employee Wendy Matson.
A few years ago, Wendy heard of Generation Rx and decided to get involved in making a difference in her community.
She began with printing Generation Rx handouts to leave behind at the pharmacies she worked with in hopes of starting educational discussions. Additionally, she discussed prescription medication safety with every visit she made to her retail pharmacy customers. Through her diligence, Matson moved the pharmacists to action and soon they joined her in discussing prescription drug misuse prevention in their own respective communities.
Wendy’s passion for educating others on the issue has resulted in several accomplishments. Two years ago, she coordinated an anti-diversion summit in Tulsa that had nearly 200 attendees. The event was so successful that she was asked by her colleagues in other states to assist them in planning their own summits. Matson has since been invited by the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy to join the Coalition Against Prescription and Substance Abuse of Tulsa and was recently asked to give a keynote presentation on Generation Rx to the coalition members. Additionally, Matson was awarded the Dr. Ken Hale Generation Rx Champions Award this past July for her incredible commitment to spreading awareness regarding prescription drug misuse.
Matson said she wanted to educate the public on the prescription drug misuse epidemic because parents either aren’t aware that it is happening or are in denial and want to hide their loved one’s addiction.
Through her various experiences meeting with individuals impacted by prescription drug abuse, Matson has heard many stories regarding the issue. One student Matson has met through her work with Generation Rx is currently battling a Xanax and Oxycodone addiction. When asked how the individual got started with medications, they responded that it began when the individual was prescribed Oxycodone from a dentist following a wisdom teeth procedure. Unfortunately, this student believes a common misconception – that there is not a problem simply because a doctor continues to write the prescription for Xanax. The individual then trades some of their prescribed Xanax to receive Oxycodone or Hydrocodone in return. This instance highlights another issue in the fight against prescription drug misuse, and Matson is passionate about spreading the message that you can say no to doctors’ suggestions of fulfilling prescriptions.
“As a parent, you have every right to tell a doctor or dentist that you don’t want your child taking a prescription medication,” Matson said. “Ask questions about your doctor’s suggestions and, if you do decide that a prescription is necessary, take control by researching the drug and monitoring your child’s intake. And as an adult, you are certainly allowed to pass for yourself. We know ourselves and our children best, and it is our duty to question and be proactive about what we are putting into our bodies.”
Matson credits Steve Lawrence, Executive Sponsor of Generation Rx at Cardinal Health, with giving that advice, which she has since spread to many others.
Matson encourages everyone to get involved, even if you have no personal connection to the issue.
“Start small,” Matson advises. “Start with your family or at your school and do what you can. Generation Rx has conveniently grouped resources by age group, so you can easily start with whatever audience you want. Everything is right at your fingertips and, trust me, you’ll be shocked at the feedback you get.”
Wendy encourages everyone to take the first step in educating those around them about prescription drug misuse prevention by emailing friends and family members with the educational information. Email and social media make it extremely easy to share positive messages regarding proper prescription medication practices with everyone you know.
At the end of the day, Matson simply wants to educate people.
“Everyone has a story, but many people are scared to talk about it,” Matson suggested. “Stop being scared and start being proactive.”
And proactive she is.