Disposing of unused medicines the right way: A how-to

October 18, 2017

Not taking the extra step means taking a risk

Drug Take Back Day is October 28. It’s an opportunity to focus on the right way to dispose of unused medicine. There are wrong ways, too. They may be easy, but they can be bad for the environment, unhealthy, and even dangerous.  

Medicine-disposal mistakes

Throwing pills in the trash

Putting medicines – controlled substances such as opioids and even over-the-counter medications – in the trash sounds simple enough but, they could be found by kids who might swallow them. They could even be abused. Both could be dangerous and possibly deadly. However, mixing medicine with kitty litter or coffee grounds before disposing of them will make them less appealing. If there are no safer options, this method works as a last resort.     

Crushing before disposing

This could put you and your family in danger of drug exposure through skin and/or lung contact. Many pills are designed to be slow-release. Crushing them would cause these drugs to release quickly, exposing anyone who comes in contact to a dangerously high dose.

Flushing down the toilet

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency say this is a big no. It’s simply bad for the environment. Most medicines aren’t removed by wastewater treatment. Flushed medicine can pollute our waters, contaminating wildlife and our food supply. Traces can be detected virtually everywhere.

Fortunately, there’s a right way

Find a drug take back collection location

This is the right way because it’s the safest way. It’s what Drug Take Back Day is all about. Taking this extra step to safely dispose of medicine is far better than taking risks. Simply do an online search for drug takeback locations in your area, bring in your unused medicine and follow the instructions at the location. Your unused medicines will be gone, and so will the possible dangers associated with them.

Prime is a leader in managing controlled substances

One way Prime is helping lead the charge is by co-sponsoring drug take back kiosks in over 900 Walgreens locations. The kiosks give people the resources to dispose of unused medicine the right way. Creating more awareness of drug take back collection sites can help to ease the opioid epidemic. It can also reduce the number of household accidents involving prescription medicines – well worth the extra effort.

If you have any unused medicine in your home, don’t fall back on false beliefs. Be safe. Visit the DEA’s website to find a drug take back location near you.