Saturday, April 28, 2018, is National Drug Take-Back Day. While there are ways to safely dispose of expired or leftover prescription medications every day, this day is set aside to offer safe, secure, no-questions-asked disposal sites for any and all prescription drugs. You can use this link to find a drop-off site near you, or you can go the Google Maps’ site which has partnered with the FDA to make it even easier to find disposal locations.
Can’t make it to a disposal site on April 28?
The optimal disposal scenario is to go to a Drug Take Back event to ensure they will be completely destroyed; however, if you are unable to make it to one of these events, it is possible to safely dispose of most prescription medications any time by following some simple tips:
- Remove the pills or capsules from their container
- Do not crush them
- Mix them with unpleasant garbage substances such as used coffee grounds, dirt or used kitty litter – this will make them harder for someone to find amongst the trash.
- Place the drug/substance concoction in a container or sealed bag to keep them from being easily removed or found
- Throw them in your normal trash
- Dispose of the container separately in the trash, and make sure any personal information, as well as the prescription number and doctor’s name, are unreadable
- Handle with care – especially if they have been opened
- Flush patches as indicated in the medicine’s directions
Is it OK to flush prescription medicines?
The FDA has a list of controlled substance drugs which it is safe to flush if a take-back program is not available at the time you need to dispose of them. Some concerns were raised in the past about flushed medications affecting water supplies or leaching into groundwater. In December of 2017 the results of a study on this subject were published with the conclusion there was “a negligible eco-toxicological risk” associated with flushing the compounds and the minute possible impact is far outweighed by the risks posed if they find their way into the mouths of children or onto the streets.
Keeping current prescriptions safe
While taking opioid medications, be sure you have them in a secure location with childproof lids (if you have young children), and where they are not easily located. Research by the federal government indicates the majority of abused prescription drugs come from family or friends, and many times were in the family medicine cabinet.