Today’s post comes from guest author Hayes Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm in North Carolina. As she writes, there are much better and safer ways to make sure unneeded prescription drugs don’t get into the water or abused by others.
Since some people choose to organize their homes at the year’s end, I thought this was a timely post. Unfortunately, as has been written about before on this blog, a National Prescription Drug Take Back day probably won’t be set for a while into 2015. I would note that if a person recycles their pill bottles, it’s also worth taking the time to scratch out the details, as described below. So please go ahead and follow the tips that ultimately provide a safer environment for all.
Have a healthy and productive 2015.
Flushing drugs down the toilet is the old way of getting rid of unwanted, expired or unused drugs, but recent studies have shown that this practice harms our environment. Low levels of drugs, such as birth control and anti-depressants among others, are being found in our lakes, rivers and streams and are negatively impacting fish populations and other aquatic life. Long term exposure in our waters can eventually lead to drug-resistant bacteria that will ultimately render our drugs ineffective.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has recently released recommended ways to dispose of controlled substances including take-back events, where pharmacies, hospitals or clinics allow you to bring them your unused medications for them to dispose of properly, or mail-back programs and also collection receptacle locations, where you can drop off your unused medications. You can ask your pharmacist about whether any of these programs are offered in your area or contact your city or county’s trash and recycling services. If none of the recommended take-back programs are available in your area you should follow these 3 simple steps to dispose of most medicines in your household trash:
- Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds; and
- Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and
- Then 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).