Most people have some old prescription medications lying about in the medicine cabinet. Usually, we leave them there for years, and eventually just toss them in the garbage. Often, we don’t even remember what they were prescribed for. What should you do with old prescription medications?
The Danger of Old Prescriptions
Old prescriptions can cause multiple problems. First, there is the danger of them being taken by someone to which they were not prescribed. Often, this occurs instead of visiting the doctor – and the medication may not even be appropriate for the illness or the person taking them. You may even decide that you can take the medication if the same health problem occurs, without knowing whether the medication is still good or not. In this case, one of two things could happen. At the very least, the medication won’t do anything at all. At the very worst, you could poison yourself.
Another common danger is that people who have a drug problem could steal certain medications out of your medicine cabinet – and you may not even notice. They will in turn either sell the medication on the street, or use it themselves, which can not only contribute to their drug problem, but may even lead to other health problems or even an overdose.
The DEA and Old Prescription Medications
Every once in a while, the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, in the United States notifies that public that they are having a prescription medication ‘drive.’ During these events, they will designate certain points or outlets where you can bring your old prescriptions and drop them off for proper disposal.
Even when these drives are not in progress, you can take your prescription medications to your local DEA office, your local pharmacy, your doctor, the local hospital, or even the local police department for proper disposal.
Don’t Flush or Toss!
Do not flush old prescriptions down the toilet. You could be poisoning the water supply. Do not dissolve them in water in the sink and allow them to go down the drain either. Garbage disposals are also not an option.
Additionally, you should never toss old prescriptions in the trash. This makes it very easy for these medications to fall into the wrong hands. Instead, take these drugs somewhere for proper disposal by professionals to ensure that you are not putting anyone in danger.
Finally, get rid of old prescriptions as soon as you are finished with them. For example, if you no longer need those pain pills, take them back to your doctor or pharmacy for disposal. If your doctor instructs you to stop taking an antibiotic, take it for disposal. Do not leave unused prescription drugs lying about the house!
October 6th, 2010
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