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White, round pills with a blue background

If you have ever had leftover medication that you no longer needed, did you store it in your medicine cabinet in case you get the same illness in the future and want to have it readily available? Maybe you kept the medication in case you need it again for pain?  If yes, that is NOT OKAY!

Everyday more than 4,300 Americans misuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time. Prescription drug misuse is a public health concern in the United States. Prescription drug abuse is using prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescriber. It includes taking a friends prescription painkiller for your nagging backache or someone’s anti-anxiety pills to help one become calm. The prescription drugs most abused include opioid pain killers, anti- anxiety medications, sedatives and stimulants. Every day, more than 128 people die from an opioid overdose, and this includes both prescription medications and heroin.

Where do most people who misuse prescription pain relievers get them? From their doctors, the internet, or from family and friends? If you said family and friends, you are correct. Since most individuals who misuse prescription pain relievers get them from family or friends, it is very important to dispose of leftover medications properly when you are done using them.

a white box with locks on them and it says medication disposal in writing on it.

How to dispose of medications

 Once finished with a prescription, you have three options for disposal:

  1. Safely dispose of medications by putting them in a drug drop box.
  2. Find a drug take back program. Many communities offer programs that allow the public to bring unused medications to a central location for proper disposal. Take advantage of the drug take back programs in your community.
  3. If you do not have a drop box or take back program near you, dispose of medication safely at home by following these steps: 
  • Remove pills from their original container and mix them with undesirable substances such as kitty litter, coffee grounds or dirt.
  • Place the mixture in something you can close, such as a re-sealable storage bag, empty can or another container to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.
  • Throw the sealed mixture into the trash.
  • Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine package to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the medicine container away.

Remember to do YOUR part and do not leave unused or expired drugs around. Properly dispose of medications to help combat the prescription drug misuse epidemic.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prescription-drug-abuse/symptoms-causes/syc-20376813

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/where-and-how-dispose-unused-medicines

http://www.generationrx.org

Written by Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator Wood County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

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