Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in our country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially declared it an epidemic. As of 2012, overdose deaths from prescription opioids increased to nearly 17,000, and heroin has seen a 75 percent increase from 2007 to 2011.
But what if we told you that there was a way that you could help?
Addressing the prescription drug problem involves many layers, and one of them is the proper disposal of leftover or expired medications. Home medicine cabinets have become the new drug dealer, and over half of teens abusing prescription drugs get them from an unknowing friend or family member.
It’s up to YOU to dispose of your medications properly. However, there is confusing advice on how to do so safely. Do you flush the meds down the toilet? Throw them in the trash with kitty litter? Or drive them over to a police or fire station?
Do Not Flush Your Medications!
We now know that flushing prescription or over-the-counter drugs is not the best way to get rid of them. Even though the drugs become diluted, they still end up somewhere, and this somewhere is our waters and environment.
Throwing away your medications with kitty litter or coffee grounds is not ideal either. The drugs aren’t breaking down this way, so they can still get into the wrong hands. Not to mention, trash-related toxic exposures are called into the Pet Poison Helpline each day.
So where do your old, expired and unused prescription and OTC drugs go? Medicine take-back programs.
Use a Take-Back Program Instead!
Medicine take-back programs are the only safe and secure method for disposing leftover medications. These programs are offered at various locations such as law enforcement offices and pharmacies. The locations have secure equipment that prevent theft, and when enough medication has been collected, it is disposed of safely.
Although the demand for take-back programs is high, they are not guaranteed. Since they are funded with government and law enforcement budgets, the programs can be unpredictable. Talk to your pharmacy or law enforcement office to see what types of medications they will accept, and if there are take-back programs in your area. Most pharmacies accept prescribed and OTC meds – just not controlled ones.
You can learn more about medication take-back programs at DisposeMyMeds.org.