Schooling senior citizens on opioid use

Residents of the Four Flags Plaza in Niles, MI, participated in a program to educate older residents on opioid use. Participants were given a Deterra pouch to dispose of old medications.

NILES — Much of the news coverage of the opioid crisis has focused on young people at risk for addiction and overdose.

But senior citizens also are vulnerable to abuse and misuse of pain medications, and can play a role in stopping the flow of pills into the wrong hands.

“Pain medication is a necessity,” said Kerri Teachout, a retired substance abuse prevention specialist with the Berrien County Health Department now working as a consultant. “But we need to be careful how we use it, and how we store it. Safety is first and necessity is second.”

Teachout spoke Wednesday to residents of the Four Flags Plaza in Niles, as part of a program created through a $54,000 grant from the Area Agency on Aging. More presentations are scheduled throughout the summer in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

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