Clean out the cabinet for National Drug Take Back Day

Do you drink expired milk? At least not on purpose, then why would you take expired medications? If your prescription drugs are past the expiration date, taking them can be dangerous.

All medications have a “shelf-life” — the length of time the drug will last at maximum effectiveness and safety. Beyond that date, your medication may become weak, which means you’re not getting the full benefit. Worse, expired medications may be unsafe. It’s just not a risk worth taking. Besides, the more medications you have around the higher the risk of abuse, accidental ingestion and misuse. 

Take a peak in your medicine cabinet before your holiday guests do. Are any old medications collecting dust in there? If yes, it’s time for a cleanup and clean out. Considering bringing your medications to a collection center near you on one of the two National Drug Take Back Days.

You might be feeling conflicted about the idea of protecting the environment vs. having out-of-date medications around.  But here is the reality: datafrom a few years ago suggested that small amounts of pharmaceutical drugs were being found in rivers and drinking water around the country.

How should you get rid of expired medications?

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines suggest the following:

  • Call your city or county government and ask whether your community has a drug take-back program or a central location for proper disposal of prescription drugs.
  • Follow the directions on the label or patient information brochure that comes with the medication. Do not flush your prescription drugs down the toilet unless the label directs you to.

If there are no instructions for disposal and no take-back programs in your community, consider these guidelines for throwing your drugs in the trash.

  • Take the medication out of its containers and mix it with used kitty litter, coffee grounds or something else that will make the drug unusable—do NOT crush the pills.
  • Put the whole mixture in a can or sealable bag so they do not leak out.
  • Finally, hide or remove personal information on the empty medicine containers. Cover the labels with permanent marker or scratch them off.
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