Pharmacist checking medicines

How to Properly Dispose of Old Prescription Medications

Do you have old or expired prescription drugs sitting in your medicine cabinet? While your first instinct may be to flush them down the toilet or toss them in the trash, these are not safe methods for disposing of prescription medications. Flushing medicine down the toilet contaminates rivers and streams, while disposing of drugs in the trash makes them vulnerable to be picked up and abused by another person.

Why Should You Dispose of Old Prescriptions?

You may be considering holding onto a prescription that you were prescribed for a past surgery or ailment that you no longer need. However, this is not a smart idea. Using a prescription drug that has not been prescribed to you can lead to accidental poisoning or overdose. A pharmaceutical drug should only be taken with a prescription or under a doctor’s supervision.

Another issue with holding on to old medications is drug abuse. Over 50% of those who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from family and friends. Disposing of your old medications is a sure-fire way of ensuring they will not be used inappropriately. Plus, should you need to purchase the same medication in the future, you can minimize the cost by using a free prescription discount card.

The Right Away to Dispose Expired Medications

With that said, the best way to dispose of prescription medications is by taking them to a Drug Take-Back Event. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration holds Drug Take-Back Events every six months in communities across the country. Contact your city or county government to find out when the next Drug Take-Back event will be held in your area.

If you do not want to hold on to your drugs until the next Drug Take-Back day, there is a safe way you can dispose of them at home. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, you can remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds. Then, place the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, like a zip lock bag or empty margarine tub. Be sure to remove or scratch off your personal information from the original prescription drug container using a permanent marker or duct tape. Once this is done, you can place the container with the drug mixture in the trash. This ensures no one will get their hands on your old prescription medication.

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