Addressing the opioid epidemic: How you can be part of the solution

By Regence
April 25, 2019

Opioid misuse and addiction continue to be a nationwide epidemic. In the United States, more than 130 people die from an opioid overdose every day – exceeding those who die in car accidents.

What’s more, a 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs, including opioids, were obtained from friends and family – often from a home medicine cabinet.

The opioid epidemic touches us all in some way and we can all be part of the solution. Here are two things you can do today:

Educate yourself.

Recently Dr. Jim Polo, Regence’s behavioral health medical director, was a guest on the HealthChangers podcast. Listen to this episode to learn more about the opioid epidemic and some of the programs that are addressing misuse in our communities.

“The opioid crisis is actually the unintended consequence of addressing pain,” Dr. Polo said. “It is complex and to adequately address it, we need to work in partnership together.”

Safely dispose of unwanted, expired prescriptions.

When was the last time you checked your medicine cabinet for expired or unused prescription medications? The Drug Enforcement Administration sponsors two National Prescription Drug Take Back days each year and Saturday, April 27, is the next chance to dispose of your old or unneeded drugs.

The DEA offers a list of collection sites nationwide. Just enter your zip code on the Drug Take Back collection locator to find a collection site near you. 


Regence supports safe disposal of prescription medications, particularly opioids. In addition to supporting the DEA Drug Take Back events each year, Regence has partnered with Walgreens to sponsor safe medication disposal kiosks that are available year-round at select Walgreens locations across Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Utah.

“This partnership with Walgreens gave us the opportunity to go the next step further in addressing the opioid epidemic, getting unwanted, unused medications out of circulation and disposed of in a way that is safe, helpful and available year-round,” Dr. Polo said.

Since the program began in March of 2016, Walgreens has collected and safely disposed of more than 1.2 million pounds of unwanted prescription medications, including opioids.

Learn more about our commitment to reducing opioid prescriptions, while also ensuring access for those who can benefit from opioid treatment.

Pictured at top: Left: Dr. Jim Polo and Susan Gage, Regence; Right: Phil Caruso, Walgreens