How many reasons do you need to get rid of old medicines? Why keep them at all? Are you keeping the Percocet the dentist prescribed in case your back acts up? Maybe the last of the antibiotic you didn’t finish in case your throat is scratchy? The leftover Ambien in the cabinet in case your husband needs it?
Using a medicine your doctor prescribed for your twisted knee last year for this year’s achy shoulder is a bad idea. Your doctor needs to know when and how much medicine you’ve taken and what other prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements you are currently taking to prevent drug interactions. If you take some leftover antibiotics to ward off what feels like a flu coming on, you are contributing to your own overexposure of antibiotics and your doctor won’t have accurate records. Giving any medicine you were prescribed to someone else is also a bad idea. So many factors including health conditions and other medicines used as well as weight and gender need to be considered with every prescription.
Extra vials of prescription drugs stuffing a medicine cabinet make it hard to find the drug you need… and easy for you not to notice that someone took the painkiller you never used because it upset your stomach.
September 27th is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. For the 4th year, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has organized collection sites across the country that can safely (and nonjudgmentally) accept unneeded prescription and controlled substances. The collection sites take responsibility for safely disposing the prescription medicines. You reap the benefits of getting drugs that can turn dangerous in the wrong hands out of your house. Find a collection center through this DEA web site.
If you can’t get to a collection site or miss the date, don’t let your prescription drugs sit until next year. Don’t leave them in your medicine cabinet, and don’t flush them down a drain where they can be released into our water supply.
Here are steps the DEA suggests for disposing of drugs in your trash:
- Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds.
- Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag.
- Throw the container in your household trash.
- Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.
More than 50% of drug abusers get their drugs from family and friends. Don’t let your home be a source for anyone who wants to take a drug not prescribed to him or her. Dispose of leftover drugs quickly and safely.
Watch our interview above with pharmacist Ray Murphy for more on prescription drug safety.