04.13.18

Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet

Springtime is here and it usually motivates us to do some spring cleaning of our home, bedroom, closet or pantry.  Nothing feels better than having a fresh start!  However, you may not realize that spring cleaning your medicine cabinet is much needed, too.  Not only is it important to clean out and get rid of expired, unused or unwanted medications, it’s equally if not more important to dispose of them properly.
Some medications may be especially harmful and, in some cases, fatal with just one dose if they are used by someone other than the person for whom the medicine was prescribed. To prevent accidental exposure to, including ingestion of, these potentially dangerous medicines by children and others, including pets, it is recommended that these medicines be disposed of quickly .
Another problem today is that pharmaceutical drugs that are improperly disposed of are being detected  in our water supply, and this can have a negative health impact on not only aquatic life, but people. Did you know that antidepressants have been found in fish? Antidepressants are the highest documented drugs contaminating our waterways.
Here are some ways to safely dispose of medications:
There are local drop-offs to dispose of old or unused pharmaceutical drugs. Medicine take-back programs are a good way to safely dispose of most types of unneeded medicines. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) periodically hosts National Prescription Drug Take-Back events where collection sites are set up in communities nationwide for safe disposal of prescription drugs. Local law enforcement agencies may also sponsor medicine take-back programs in your community. You can also contact your local waste management authorities to learn about medication disposal options and guidelines for your area. 
Disposal in Household Trash
If no medicine take-back programs are available in your area, and there are no specific disposal instructions on the label, such as flushing, you can follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the household trash:

  • Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds.
  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag.
  • Throw the container in your household trash.
  • Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of the container.

Make a plan to spring clean your medicine cabinet so that you can ensure the safety of your family and environment.  Happy spring cleaning!
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services