By Kevin Mischke, Director of Family Services at Concierge Care Advisors
October 29th is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. If you have ever questioned how or where to dispose of expired medication, this is a day created by the DEA to encourage the public to remove old and unneeded medications from their homes. This will prevent any medication misuse by the owner of the medication in case it is expired, but also helps prevent others who may come in the home from having access to these medications.
According to the DEA Take Back Day site, this organization is committed to making communities safer and healthier. They can do this by reducing overdoses and reducing access to expired medications. Often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands. This can be very dangerous. This Take Back program helps remind people to clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in unused and expired drugs safely and anonymously. You can find out more information about where to return your prescription drugs at Take Back Day (dea.gov)
If the take back program is not available for your area, this month is still a good reminder to go through old medications and dispose of them properly. Most medications will have specific instructions on how to dispose. Usually, this information is found on the patient information leaflet given to you at the pharmacy. You can also google the safe way to dispose your specific medication. Keep in mind that there are only certain medications that can be flushed down the toilet. Others may be disposed in your trash by removing the drugs from the original pill bottles and mixing them with undesirable contents. Put the medication in a zip lock bag with coffee grounds, cat litter or dirt. This will discourage animals or anyone else looking for drugs to find them. Make sure to scratch out your name and the medication name from the bottle. Remove or dispose of the medication label separately. Make sure to always check the instructions on how to expose other medication type items like inhalers or fentanyl patches.
Remember that medication prescribed to you could be harmful to others. If you have a medicine cabinet full of unused or expired drugs, take the opportunity this month to clean it out and properly dispose of anything no longer needed or used.