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How to Safely Throw Away Prescription Meds: A Guide

Most households with medicine cabinets are mostly chock full of expired and unneeded prescription medicines. Although this seemingly is just about being disorganized, failing to get rid of expired medicines can lead to severe consequences. This is especially true for medicinal opioids because of their potential to be used for another thing rather than their intended usage. 

What’s more, medicine that is past its prime can be harmful to the body and can even lead to death in some cases. Removing expired and unneeded prescription medication from your home is necessary to keep your family safer. In addition, this can help reduce the situations where your family members and even your pets consume these medicines and even die. 

But with all that said, what is the right way of getting rid of your expired medicines? How could you package them? Where would you even send these packages?

Take Back Drug Programs

The typical preferred way to get rid of your medications is through an official drug take-back program. They are offered in two ways by either periodic events or permanent collection sites. 

For example, the US Drug Enforcement Agency DEA often sets up temporary collection sites where they offer to take away prescription medicines for you. They often do this in different communities nationwide. Not only that, but local law enforcement agencies also set up their collection sites for their respective communities.

If you prefer something else, you can look at your local pharmacies. Local pharmacies often have collection kiosks where people can drop off their prescription meds quickly and safely. If you want to know if your local law enforcement or other government agencies are running a drug take-back program, you can contact them on their website or phone numbers.

At Home

Sometimes, we don’t have access to drug take-back programs, or you’re far away from your local pharmacies. Luckily, you can dispose of some of your medicines at home if you want to. This is especially true if you have tons of them for cheap that you got from a saving  program online. 

One of the two ways you can do so is to flush them down the toilet. Some medicines are especially harmful to others that manufacturers often have directions to flush them down the toilet once they are not needed anymore. 

But how do you know if a medicine is flushable? You can often look at its packaging or in the leaflet inside the box. If you don’t have them anymore, you can consult the FDA’s site, as they have a list of medicines recommended for disposal through flushing.

However, flushing down the medicine still has some debate about it. There are some concerns about the small level of drugs that may be found in the water when you flush them down the toilet. The FDA and the US Environmental Protection Agency take this concern seriously as it can do a lot of damage not just to the environment but also to the citizens. Thankfully, there are still no signs of environmental effects that have been caused by flushing down medicine.

The second way of disposing of your medicines is through your household trash. However, there are some steps you have to do first before doing that. The first thing you have to do is take out the medicine from its packaging. You can then mix them with unwanted stuff like dirt, coffee grounds, kitty litter, etc. This will deter anyone from looking into the packaging.

Next is to put them in another container that is tightly secured so that you can avoid them from leaking out of the container. And then after that, you can throw them away safely in the garbage can. 

For the packaging, make sure to scratch out the label and your name from it to protect your identity. Also, if you don’t have any secure container in your household, you can purchase unique drug deactivation bags that makes medicine useless. 

Not only that but it is considered to be incredibly safe for the environment. You can usually request them from your local pharmacy or have them mail-ordered from other available stores. Some drug coalitions even supply them as accessible as long as they still have supplies left.

Final Words

As responsible citizens, properly disposing of unused medicine is not enough as you also have to pay proper attention to how you store your medicine. Without properly storing your medicine, it might get into the hands of your other household members, especially your children. 

This unintended situation can lead to disastrous circumstances like hospitalization and even death. Before this happens, make sure to dispose of everything that is not needed, and for the remaining meds, store them away from your loved ones.

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