Did you know that 80% of those who use heroin started by misusing prescription pain medications and opioids? The readily available drugs common in many medicine cabinets across the United States can lead to misuse and addiction.
Take a look through your medicine cabinet. Chances are some over-the-counter or old prescription medications have expired, or you no longer use them.
What do you do with them, and how can you safely dispose of them to prevent misuse and help your community?
Avoid Flushing Unused Medications Down The Sink Or Toilet
If you need to get rid of unused medications, prescription or non-, do not flush them down the sink or toilet. Flushed medications get into local water systems, and water treatment facilities cannot filter them out. This has resulted in water pollution, and studies have found pharmaceuticals in surface, ground, and marine waters.
Even at low levels, the presence of these chemicals is harmful to the environment.
In an emergency, medications can be flushed. An emergency constitutes when someone is at high risk of misusing that medication or their life is on the line. For example, if you’re in a home with someone who is actively seeking prescription medications for the point of misuse or potential suicide, it would be better to flush those than spend the time looking for means of proper disposal to avoid injury or risk to an individual.
The FDA has many helpful resources for disposing of medications, including a flush list. Carefully follow all storage and disposal instructions on medications.
Find Medicine Disposal Drop Off Points
Many pharmacies and police stations participate in take-back programs for safe disposal of prescription and over the counter medications. These programs are designed to create a safe place for people to dispose of unwanted drugs and other medications.
A simple Google search can bring up a list of disposal programs available in your community. Always call your local police station or pharmacy beforehand to ensure that they are still accepting old medication.
Request Disposal Bags
PreventEd will provide households with a free drug deactivation bag upon request. Known as Deterra, this system deactivates medications placed within. Simply add water!
According to Deterra, “Each patented Deterra pouch contains a water-soluble inner pod containing proprietary MAT12® activated carbon. Once the drugs are placed in the pouch, warm water is then added, which dissolves the inner pod releasing the activated carbon. Deterra works on pills, patches, and liquids, allowing them to be absorbed by the carbon, rendering them inert and non-retrievable.”
These disposal bags can only be shipped within the state of Missouri from PreventEd.
Know How To Store Prescription Medication Safely
Safely storing medication before disposal is essential in keeping everyone safe:
- Keep all medications in their original packaging
- Keep medications in a high place away from children and pets
- Keep track of how many pills are in a bottle
Never share medications! This can lead to potentially dangerous side effects and other harm.