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How To Safely Dispose Of Unused Medicine

Posted by on December 21, 2016
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Unfortunately, reports of deaths caused by accidental – or intentional – intake of medications not prescribed for the person who ingested them, are quite common these days. Predominantly, these stories involve teenagers finding barbiturates in their parents’ medicine cabinet. It’s also not uncommon to hear about cases involving adults and seniors who suffered potentially fatal adverse reactions after consuming their or someone else’s expired or left-over meds.

The Importance of Medicine Cabinet Decluttering

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and even herbal medicines, are potent substances, and carry a high risk in the wrong hands. That’s why safe-keeping of pharmaceuticals, and safe disposal of unused and expired drugs is so important. We all need to periodically review the contents of our medicine cabinets to check which drugs are past their due date or no longer required, and remove them.

How Not To Dispose Of Meds

When decluttering your medicine cabinet, make sure not to throw out pharmaceuticals in the garbage or flush them down the toilet or sink. It’s a convenient way to get rid of them, but when these potentially harmful substances are disposed of this way, they eventually find their way into the local rivers and streams, which provide you and your community with drinking water.This disposal method adds pollution to our soil and water, and over time, will help to raise the level of toxins to a danger point not only for our environment but also for human health.

The Best Way to Get Rid of Pharmaceuticals

The safest way to dispose of expired or left-over drugs, is to take them back to your pharmacy. Most pharmacies have programs in place designed to accept no longer needed pharmaceuticals, and dispose of them in a way that will not cause any harm to people or to the environment, usually by delivering them to a local licensed hazardous waste disposal facility. Many municipalities and local police forces offer similar programs, known as take-back programs. You can easily find them by searching on the internet.

If you have no other choice but to throw your medications in the garbage, follow these steps:

  • Remove all the meds from the container.
  • Place them in an off-putting garbage mixture such as kitty litter or coffee grinds. This will help to discourage people and animals from rummaging through the bags..
  • . Place this mixture in a container that can be tightly sealed – you don’t want the drug leaking into the garbage bag

If you’re throwing out the container as well, make sure to scratch out all information on the prescription label to protect your identity and your personal health information.

Monitoring your medicine cabinet in order to avoid potentially fatal accidents in your home is priority number one, but we also need to be careful and caring about our environment. This means not injecting all kinds of pharmaceuticals into our soil and rivers by flushing meds down the toilet or sink or throwing them into the dumpster along with our regular trash. With so many people using medications these days, deploying this type of disposal over a period of time will render our lakes, rivers and soil more toxic and put our food and drinking water at risk.