Ann Hamlin on her mission as Director of Training and Science for DisposeRx to change public behavior around proper drug disposal~
“There’s a simple solution, and there is a convenient solution because we aren’t going to change anybody’s behavior unless it’s absolutely simple and convenient and it doesn’t make anybody have to do one or two more steps than they’re already used to doing.”
Ann Hamlin: We have to look at disposing of your medication like we look at wearing your seatbelt.
Brian Wilson: For most Americans wearing a safety belt in the car is now second nature, but that was not always the case. In the 1960s concern about road safety and traffic fatalities prompted the U.S. government to study the effects of seatbelt usage. By 1965 every state in the union had a law requiring front seat belt usage but it took more than legislation to change the public’s behavior. In fact by 1982 only 11% of drivers used seat belts but things changed.
PSA Announcer: Almost 52,000 people were killed in traffic accidents last year. It’s estimated that 16,000 of those people could have been saved by wearing safety belts.
Brian Wilson: Powerful, sometimes shocking, occasionally even humorous commercials flooded the airwaves in a public service campaign that changed people’s thinking about wearing seat belts.
Commercial Voices: Vince, What are you doing? Getting out of the crash dummy business. No way I’m ending up like Charlie did. But Vince how else can we prove safety belts save lives? We can…
Brian Wilson It worked. In 2016 the national highway traffic safety administration reports that the national seat belt usage rate is over 90%.
Commercial Announcer: You could learn a lot from a dummy. Buckle your safety belt.
Brian Wilson:I recently spoke with Ann Hamlin of DisposeRx about the opioid crisis and about how the public should view the issue of drug disposal.
Hamlin’s Role at DisposeRx Based on Forensic Science Career
Ann Hamlin: So, I’m the Director of Science and Training at DisposeRx. and I also am over the training or the educational piece. Part of the passion of DisposeRx is to educate and change the behavior and the culture of people to understand why it’s so important to properly dispose of your unused medication.
Brian Wilson: Tell me about the background that you have that makes you the perfect person for that job.
Ann Hamlin: Well, I worked at a crime laboratory in the state of North Carolina for 30 years. I worked my way through the ranks. In the last 10 years of my career, I was the forensic scientist manager over drug chemistry and, for a brief period of time, over toxicology as well, so I got to actually see the trends and the changes in both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs.
Community Training and Education
Brian Wilson: Tell me about your education efforts on behalf of DisposeRx and the curriculum that you take to families and children, I guess.
Ann Hamlin: Sure. What I’ve done is I’ve developed a program that involves a number of lessons that actually teaches children about proper use of prescription medication. It’s aimed at eighth graders, and there’s a reason for that. There’s a DARE program in our country that ends with seventh graders, so I figured, if we target eighth graders, it’s a great segue from that seventh-grade class to when they go to high school to learn about the proper use of pharmaceutical medication. The last piece of the curriculum that I’ve developed involved the parents, and it brings the parents into the school to see projects that the kids have developed to send their message to friends and to their family about what they need to know about the proper use of pharmaceuticals, and that includes the proper disposal of unused medication.
Brian Wilson: You seem very passionate about what you do.
Hamlin’s Passion for Raising Awareness on Proper Use and Disposal of Pharmaceuticals Run Deep
Ann Hamlin: I think it’s just my 30-year career in the drug field. I’ve seen a lot of addiction. Part of my background deals with the methamphetamine crisis and seeing actual methamphetamine labs in homes, seeing children in a meth lab situation. I’ve gone into many where I’ve seen children that were pretty much left abandoned by their parents. They weren’t taken care of. I’m just a kind of person that wants to … My heart has always been with children, with people that needed help, so this was a perfect movement into my second career. The DisposeRx team is very passionate about helping people and helping those with addiction. That’s why I felt this was a perfect fit.
Brian Wilson: You’re a mom.
Ann Hamlin I am, yes.
Brian Wilson: You think about these things from a mom’s perspective, do you not?
Ann Hamlin: Oh, absolutely. My poor children. I have two 22-year-old identical twins, have listened to me since they were born, 22 years, about drugs. Every time there was a new drug or a trend, something that I identified, they would get a lecture, and they’ve gotten it on pharmaceutical drugs as well. They’re in nursing right now. They’re both going to be completing the nursing program. I’ve talked to them about nurses, diversion, pharmaceutical use, all of it.
Announcer: You’re listening to Opioids: Hidden Dangers, New Hope. More when we return.
[Begin Commercial] Three years ago, you fell down the stairs and ended up with a fractured ankle. OxyContin 10mg. Sometimes you need something to help you sleep, and even though they’re expired they still work. Ambien 5 mg. Last summer you finally broke down and had your wisdom teeth extracted. Percocet 2.5 mg
You never threw them out, so they sit inside your medicine cabinet posing a risk to you, those around you and anyone who enters your home. Today going through medicine cabinets searching for drugs is done by people of all ages and backgrounds. In fact, over 70% of new opioid addictions begin in a home medicine cabinet. If storing unused and expired medications puts people at risk of accidental poisoning, addiction and death., why have them there at all?
We invite you to join the growing number of Americans who have pledged to clean out their medicine cabinets with DisposeRx. Simple and safe, DisposeRx is an environmentally friendly and immediate at home drug disposal solution. No more waiting for a take back event or driving to a kiosk. With DisposeRx consumers are now empowered to break the cycle of addiction and death that begins in the home medicine cabinet. Learn more at DisposeRx.com. Available online at Walmart.com. [End Commercial]
Brian Wilson: The challenge is ahead?
Proper Drug Disposal Needs to Become Second Nature, Just Like Putting on Your Seatbelt
Ann Hamlin: The challenges is ahead, from what I see since I’ve been an employee of DisposeRx is educating people. There are some that really don’t know that you’re supposed to properly dispose of your drugs. There are some that don’t know what harm the drugs that are being disposed of in the ways that are suggested now are doing to our environment. Right now, I think the big challenge is just getting that word out there and educating people and changing the behavior. We have to look at disposing of your medication like we look at wearing your seatbelt. When you get in the car … I don’t even think about it anymore. It just happens, and that’s the way we have to educate people to think about drug disposal.
Brian Wilson: We talk about the problem. The good news is there’s such a simple solution.
At-Home Drug Disposal – It’s a Simple and Convenient Solution
Ann Hamlin: Oh, absolutely. There’s a simple solution, and there is a convenient solution because we aren’t going to change anybody’s behavior unless it’s absolutely simple and convenient and it doesn’t make anybody have to do one or two more steps than they’re already used to doing.
Brian Wilson: That’s the beauty of DisposeRx.
Ann Hamlin: Absolutely.
Brian Wilson: You can do it in a matter of moments. As it’s been said here before, 30 seconds can change a lifetime of grief. I mean you’re taking a problem, you’re eliminating it in 30 seconds. If you do nothing, you’re running the risk of a lifetime of pain and suffering.
Ann Hamlin: We’re really for any solution that helps get the medication out of the medicine cabinet. The longer you keep it in your home waiting to take it somewhere else, the opportunity is still there. If you’ve got a solution that you can use right then and there, whether it’s in your home, whether you just went to the doctor and they changed your prescription, and you’ve got your old vial in your pocket book, and you’ve got a packet of DisposeRx, you can use it right then and there and throw it in the garbage and eliminate that opportunity.
Brian Wilson: A lot of people say, “Oh, it’d never happen in my house,” but sadly, we’ve heard story after story after story where it did happen in people’s homes.
Ann Hamlin: Yes. I mean it’s heartbreaking. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when you hear those stories and you think of what a simple solution could have done to prevent that opportunity for some child, teenager to go in and grab drugs and take them somewhere for somebody else to use.
Brian Wilson: Ann, Just show us how it works.
How to Use DisposeRx At-Home Drug Disposal Solution
Ann Hamlin: Okay. It is as simple as taking the cap off of the vial that you already have your medication. You’ve decided, “I don’t need this anymore,” or it’s expired. You add water to the vial.
Brian Wilson: Bring it up to about what, two-thirds?
Ann Hamlin: About two-thirds full. One of the beauties of this solution is it doesn’t have to be exact. Then you take the packet and you open it up.
Brian Wilson: Easy-open packet.
Ann Hamlin: Easy-open packet. Then you put it into the vial.
Brian Wilson: It takes just a few seconds for it to pour in.
Ann Hamlin: It does.
Brian Wilson: Just a white powder.
Ann Hamlin: It is just a white powder.
Brian Wilson: There you go. Okay.
Ann Hamlin: You put the cap back on, and it’s as simple as shaking it up. You’ll hear the tablets or the medication at first. The longer you shake … You shake for about 30 seconds, and then you will hear the rattling of the tablets less and less until you don’t hear it.
Brian Wilson: You’re still shaking, but I’m not hearing anything now, no.
Ann Hamlin: Exactly. Then what you get after that is you get a viscous gel that has formed.
Brian Wilson: A viscous gel.
Ann Hamlin: Viscous gel.
Brian Wilson: Now It’s no benefit to anybody now. There’s no way to, practically, get drugs out of what’s left.
Ann Hamlin: Correct. This is layers of abuse deterrence: the gel itself, the dissolution of the tablets, they dissolve and they degrade, and the fact that you can’t retrieve the drugs from the gel. There are layers of abuse deterrence.
Brian Wilson: It’s so simple.
Ann Hamlin: Very simple.
Brian Wilson: You’ve solved, in just a few seconds, a potential nightmarish problem that exists in your own home.
Ann Hamlin: Yes, you have.
Brian Wilson: What’s hidden in your medicine cabinet? Think about it and then visit disposerx.com and educate yourself how simple it is to responsibly dispose of your unwanted medications. The safety of your friends, loved ones, and community could depend on it. That’s DisposeRx.com.
Announcer: Thank you for listening to Opioids: Hidden Dangers, New Hope. Subscribe today where you get your podcasts or visit opioids-hiddendangers-newhope.com for more information. This presentation is underwritten by DisposeRx.