How and Why You Should Safely Store and Dispose of Prescription Medications

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By: SUPE Editorial Team

Unused prescription drugs of any kind should not be treated like leftovers. Most families report they keep unused or expired medications in their homes. There are numerous reasons why this is the case, whether because it takes effort to discard something or the natural inclination to keep something that might be useful. It is critical to know the dangers of keeping unused prescription medications. For example, pain medication, benzodiazepines, and stimulants are significant sources of misuse and diversion.

Keeping Unused Prescription Drugs at Home Is Unsafe

The safest thing any family could do is remove all medications that are no longer prescribed or needed. There is no point in keeping unused or expired medications. All medications have an expiration date, even over-the-counter medications. Failing to dispose of unused medications properly can have dire consequences. Studies have shown that most unused prescription medications were pain medications. Holding on to these no longer needed drugs could pose a severe risk to other family members and the environment.

How to Safely Dispose of Expired or Unused Medication

The best way to safely dispose of prescription or over-the-counter medication is to drop off the medicine at a drug take-back site, location, or program. Depending on where you live, this could vary. Still, there are always locations where you can drop off unused medication.

If the medication cannot be returned to a drop-off location immediately, or there is no location close by, the FDA, for example, produced a flush list where certain medications could be flushed down the toilet.

However, some medications cannot be flushed down the toilet, making it essential to follow disposal instructions carefully.

Five Critical Reasons Why Taking Back Unused Medication Is Important

  • Prescription medication is just as dangerous as street drugs when used without a prescription or doctor’s supervision.
  • The average person who misuses or abuses prescription drugs got the medication from a family member or friend.
  • Roughly 6% of Americans over the age of 12 abuse prescriptions in a year, and 12% of these drug users are addicted.
  • The rate of use and availability of prescription drugs drives the reported rates of prescription drug abuse, addiction, and overdose.
  • Properly disposing of unused drugs saves lives and protects the environment.

Test Your Knowledge

Properly Disposing of Unused Drugs

Which of the below statements is true about disposing of unused medications?

If medication can not be returned to a drop off location immediately, what should you do?

The best way to safely dispose of old medications is just to throw them in the trash.

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