What Can I Do With All The Unused, Expired Medications in My Medicine Cabinet?

Posted in: Health effects, United States Water News, Water Education, Water Health Effects
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Photo Credit: Drug Enforcement Agency

Article courtesy of Carenovate Magazine | April 9, 2014| Carenovate Magazine | Shared as Educational Material

Do you have your medicine cabinet filled with expired medications, over the counter (OTC) drugs or medicines you no longer have any use for?

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential public health safety and health hazards.

Why So Important?

Pharmaceutical drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription or a doctor’s supervision.

  • The use of prescription drugs for non-medical use ranks second only to marijuana as the most common form of drug abuse in America.
  • Majority of teenagers abusing prescription drugs get them from family and friends – and the home medicine cabinet.
  • Unused medications – prescription, OTC, herbals, natural supplements thrown in the trash can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold.
  • Unused drugs that are flushed contaminate the water supply. Proper disposal of unused drugs saves lives and protects the environment.

The Best Way To Dispose Used Medications?

The National Prescription Drug Take-back programs are the best way to dispose of old medications. It aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. Since 2010, the drug enforcement agency (DEA) initiative has collected a combined total of 3.4 million pounds (1,733 tons) of unneeded medications, helping to prevent diversion, misuse, and abuse of the drugs. The 8th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day happens Saturday, April 26, 201410:00 am – 2:00 pm

Locate a Collection Site Near You: To locate a collection site, search here. Collection site locations are now available. Most of the time, these locations are local police departments or community organizing a collection site. Please contact the Call Center at 1-800-882-9539 if you require assistance.

  1. Law Enforcement Agencies Only: For law enforcement agencies that wish to host a collection site, please call the POC in your area.

 Law enforcement, federal agencies, public health and environmental professionals agree—take-back programs are the safest way to dispose of unused medicines.

Alternative Option: How To Dispose Unused Medications in Household Trash

  • If no medicine take-back program is available in your area, you can also follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the household trash:1
  • Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds;
  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and
  • Throw the container in your household trash.
  • Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.

Medicines Recommended for Disposal by Flushing

This list from the food and drug administration (FDA) tells you what expired, unwanted, or unused medicines you should flush down the sink or toilet to help prevent danger to people and pets in the home. Flushing these medicines will get rid of them right away and help keep your family and pets safe

Resources: Your local area pharmacist is a great resource! Don’t forget to ask

  1. www.epa.gov/ppc
  2. pwww.dea.go
  3. vwww.getsmartaboutdrugs.com
  4. www.justthinktwice.com
  5. www.awarerx.org
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