Steps for cleaning out your medicine cabinet
Unused prescription drugs can find their way into the wrong hands. This is dangerous and often tragic. Jeremy Reeves, MD, shared why it is so important to clean out your medicine cabinets and safely turn in any unwanted, unused or expired prescription medications in your home.
“Medicines left in cabinets at home are highly susceptible to misuse, abuse and theft. Rates of prescription drug abuse are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs,” said Dr. Reeves.
Unfortunately, just throwing away or flushing medications can pose potential safety and health hazards. Unused prescription drugs thrown in the trash be retrieved and abused or illegally sold. Unused medications that are flushed contaminate the water supply. Unless the prescription label or patient information specifically says to do so, don’t flush medicines down the sink or toilet.
Dr. Reeves said programs that take back prescriptions are the best way to dispose of old drugs. If a program is not available, here are some steps you can take.
- Take the medicine (tablets, capsules or liquids) out of the original containers.
- Mix the medicine with something unappealing like used coffee grounds, dirt or kitty litter.
- Seal them in a bag or disposable container to prevent leaking.
- Throw the bag or container in your household trash.
- Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and throw the packaging away as well.
“A majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained by individuals from their family and friends, stolen directly from a home medicine cabinet,” said Dr. Reeves. If you are unable to dispose of old prescription drugs at a take back event, it is important to dispose of them safely to protect others.
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