It used to be common practice to dump unused medications in a toilet or toss it in a waste bin. Many people do not know that this is not the safe way to dispose of medications.
When drugs are flushed or put in a landfill, they are discharged into the earth and ground water, contaminating the ecological environment and possibly our drinking water. Now, most rivers, lakes and ponds in the United States show traces of pharmaceutical drugs. This is why it is crucial to dispose of any kind of drug, whether it is a prescription drug, over-the-counter drugs or veterinary medicine in a safe and responsible manner.
Also, it is never a good idea to leave unused medications in the medicine cabinet where they can get into the wrong hands. Approximately 60 percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers indicate that they obtained the prescription drugs from friends or relatives for free, often by stealing them.
The best way to dispose of medications is through your local drug take-back program. Contact your local community health center for more information on take-back programs and events.
Disposing of medications in the home is a viable option when take-back programs are inaccessible. To dispose of medications in the home in the safest manner possible, follow these tips.
• Remove medications from their original containers. Take the original container and scratch out the name of the medication and discard it.
• Crush the medication if it is in pill form. Mix the crushed pills or liquid medication with sand and place the solution in a sealed plastic bag and discard it. This will prevent the medication from leaking, and it will also keep it out of the hands of drug abusers.
Remember, never dispose of medications in the toilet or sink and never give medications to friends or family members.