Unused Medications in the Wrong Hands Can be Deadly

Healthful Tips for Properly Disposing of Unused Medications

In late April 2021, the Joint Health Management Board helped promote National Prescription Drug Take Back Day conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants, and 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives in 2019.

The survey also showed that a majority of misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands. That’s dangerous and often tragic. That’s why it was great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in – safely and anonymously – a record amount of prescription drugs.

How to Dispose of Medications Safely Throughout the Year

Even though the National Take Back Day has passed, there are still a variety of safe ways you can dispose of unused or expired medications to ensure they don’t end up in the wrong hands. Here are some tips from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), along with some helpful downloads to share and store as reminders.

FDA: The FDA recommends two ways to dispose of medicines when a take back option is not available. The first involves checking to see if the drug in on the FDA “Flush List”, and if you so, you may be able to simply flush those drugs down the drain when they are no longer needed. If that is not an option, you may also be able to dispose of the medications in the your household trash. We invite you to visit the FDA site with more detailed instructions on disposing of medicines in household trash.

CDC: The CDC recommends that you “read the packaging label on your medication” which may include specific disposal instructions for specific medications. If there are no specific instructions, the CDC also recommends four steps for disposing of medicines in your household trash if a take back option is not available. Take a moment to check out this CDC Fact Sheet for more details on Safe Storage and Disposal of Prescription Medicines.

Do Your Part to Maintain a Healthy Community

For more information about safely disposing of medications, whether at home or in the community, please reference the resources provided herein from the FDA, CDC, and DEA. Your proper disposal can help save lives and reduce the environmental impact.

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