How Should You Dispose of Medications?

photo of capsule pill medication It happens to all of us. Years pass by as you accumulate partially used bottles of medicine – prescription and over-the-counter (OTC).  The bottles accumulate yet we do nothing. Probably because we don’t know what to do with these medications. How should you dispose of medications?

Why can’t you flush ’em?

According to Dispose My Meds, over 100 pharmaceuticals have been detected in lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. These compounds, even in small concentrations, can harm people and aquatic organisms.

What’s being flushed?

Almost every kind of medicine! Scientists have found antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, sex hormones and other medications in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.

Since the danger is real, you must resist the urge to flush these medications down the toilet. For everyone’s sake.

Can you toss them in the trash?

Nope! Throwing medications in the trash is unsafe as well. This is especially a concern if there are young children and/or pets in the home who could accidentally ingest the medications. In fact, 59,000 children under the age of 18 end up in the Emergency Departments due to accidental overdoses of medications (prescription and OTC).

What can you do with old medications?

There are several options for getting rid of unwanted, unused medications:

For non-narcotics (including opioids), you can wrap the medications in coffee grounds and seal them in childproof containers. However, this can be risky for narcotics and other potentially dangerous drugs.

Many cities and towns have annual “take-back” days where citizens can drop off all unwanted medications.  Call your city hall to find out if your city participates or look online at the US DEA site.

Additionally, most hospitals and pharmacies will take back medications. Use the disposal locator program at Dispose My Meds to help you find a location in your community.

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