Having excess or expired prescription drugs is unfortunately common in every household. Some may just stack it up in their pantries or attic, while others just throw it in the trash bin without following proper disposal protocol.
Improper disposal of prescription drugs may result in problems you and your community face in the future. If you have a prescription drug that you need to dispose of, here are the things that you need to know when observing proper disposal and not just tossing it into the trash can.
Consider Drug Take-Back Program
Have you ever heard of the drug take-back program sponsored by the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration? This program is available in communities nationwide, and it was carried out on the 24th of October this year.
Some communities have their local drug take-back programs. Check for a local DEA authorized collector that can collect your unused prescription drugs. This is also the best way to dispose of a prescription drug because you can make sure it won’t end up somewhere it should not.
Proper Way Of Disposing Medicines At Home
Prescription and OTC drugs can be disposed of in the household trash, but you will need to follow safe disposal protocol. The best practices of proper medicine disposal are as follows:
- Mix all the Medicines with undesirable substances like cat litters, coffee grounds, or dirt. With these, you can make sure that no one can accidentally consume the medicines. Remember to not crush tablets or capsules. It is best to put the mixture on a Ziplock and seal it properly before throwing it into the garbage.
- When disposing of prescription vials, scratch off or remove the label and all personal information written in the vial.
- Never flush the medicine in your toilet. Others may suggest doing it, but it is best not to. Flushed medication can reach rivers, streams, and lakes, affecting fishes and other aquatic organisms. You can read more about proper waste disposal in this guide from BuzzRX.
The Dangers Of Improper Medicine Disposal
It is better to know the impact of improper medicine disposal to better understand the importance of the proper protocol in disposing of prescription drugs, which has a wide range of impacts on humans, animals, and our environment.
Humans and animals can accidentally consume inappropriate disposal of medicine. Some drugs are highly dangerous if consumed by individuals who do not have an illness. Improper use of medicines can cause serious long-term problems, including kidney impairment, especially if taken in large.
In terms of environmental concerns, flushed, drained, and thrown medicines without following the proper protocol will end up in our local water systems. In 2008, a study was conducted where traces of medicines were found in the ground, surface, and drinking water.
Even a small level of contamination from improperly disposed medicine is enough to cause abnormalities in aquatic animals, including fish, and can have adverse effects on human cells. The water treatment technology we are currently using to treat our drinking water cannot remove the water’s dissolved medicine components.
Improper medicine disposal can also put your safety at risk. The primary objective of proper prescription drug disposal is to make the drug undiscoverable in the household trash. If a medicine such as an opioid will be identified by individuals who misuse medication, they will take it and use it for their benefits. And the worst thing? If these people thought you got more of the drug, they might break into your house, which will put you and your family’s life in danger.
When To Dispose of Medication
It is time to dispose of your medicines if it is already not in use, past its expiration date, or unwanted. Unwanted or unused medicines are no longer needed or prescribed to a person who already passed away.
It can also be any medication prescribed to you, but you do not want to use it for personal reasons such as sleeping medication. Some individuals are not comfortable in taking sleeping medication due to personal preferences.
Expired medicines should also be discarded as they have already lost their potency and are already useless. If left undisposed, it will only clutter your house, and worst a child in your household will accidentally consume it.
What Medication You Can Discard
You should dispose of medications that are needed to be discarded. Medicines usually fall into three categories: Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, Prescription drugs, and illegal drugs. The OTC and prescription drugs can be easily disposed of in a household or a pharmacy following the proper protocol.
To dispose of illegal drugs, you should contact the Drug Enforcement Agency and take advantage of their drug take-back program as they will accept any drugs and will not ask any questions.
The health authority has provided proper guidelines for medicine disposal because it has a huge risk. We are well aware of how dangerous drugs are, and it can be used inappropriately by some. Following these guidelines will only take a small amount of your time, and there is no harm in following but will ensure your and your community’s safety instead.