Why It’s Important to Properly Dispose of Unused Rx Drugs

Disposing of Unused Rx Drugs

Why It’s Important to Properly Dispose of Unused Rx Drugs

Studies show that the majority of misused prescription drugs are obtained from friends or family.  Government agencies such as the DEA and FDA are seeking ways to solve this crisis.  One method they have initiated is known as Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.  This is a semi-annual event that provides an opportunity for people to dispose of unused opioids and other prescription drugs that might fall into the wrong hands.   Properly disposing of unused Rx drugs is an excellent way to protect young people, and adults,  from the harmful effects of these substances.

Options for Disposing of Unused Rx Drugs

In the past, people were advised to dispose of unused prescription drugs by flushing them down the toilet.  Environmentalists are not in favor of this option because they fear that the drugs’ residue can have an adverse impact on the environment and human health.

The FDA conducted a study on the potential risks of flushing by using 15 different medicines.  They determined that the potential risks to humans and the environment is small compared to the potential dangers of the drugs being ingested directly.  Flushing the drugs gets them out of the reach of people and pets.  However, this option should only be considered if a take-back program is not available at the time.

Disposing of unused Rx drugs in the trash can be a bad idea.  Desperate abusers or addicts have no problems with going through the trash to get what they want.  If using this method of drug disposal, you should mix the substance with something undesirable such as cat litter or coffee grounds.  The mixture should then be sealed in a bag or container to prevent leaks.

What is the Best Way of Disposing of Unused Rx Drugs?

The best method for disposing of unused Rx drugs is through a Drug Take-Back program.  These programs are closely monitored to ensure that the drugs are not diverted. More information can be found at the DEA website here.

Another option for getting rid of unused medicine is to take them to a DEA registered collector.  These authorized permanent collection sites can be found in pharmacies, hospitals, or law enforcement facilities.  Also, local law enforcement agencies may sponsor a drug take-back event in local communities.

Some medications come with a disposal instruction sheet.  These instructions should be followed carefully.  A list of medicines that are approved for disposal by flushing can be found on the FDA‘s website.

Are the Take-Back Methods Effective?

The take-back days are usually in October and April.  During the last take-back day, more than 456 tons of prescriptions pills were collected.  More than 5,300 sites participated across the U.S.

It’s also interesting to note that more than 6.4 million people abuse prescription drugs, and most of the drugs were obtained from family or friends’ medicine cabinets.

The goal of the Take-Back program is to keep these unused drugs from getting into the hands of someone who has the intent to abuse them.  After President Trump declared opioid abuse as a public health emergency, the DEA facilitated the 14th Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in 2017.  The events are held twice a year in communities nationwide.

If you need to dispose of your unused medications, please check your local agencies to find out when the next take-back day occurs.

You can also contact us at our toll-free number if you need more information about this topic or if you want information about drug addiction treatment programs.

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