You Really Do Need To Destroy Unused Medications

Health & Medical Blog

If you're cleaning out your home or have to clean out someone else's home, such as that of a deceased relative, you're bound to find prescription medications that are no longer needed. You know you're not supposed to just toss them in the trash, but maybe you're thinking that putting a small amount in the trash without taking additional steps to ruin the medication won't hurt. Well, it actually can hurt, and you do have to take the time to make the medicines non-usable. If you don't, you could end up harming other people or wildlife.

Potential for Harm

It might seem like tossing one small bottle of cholesterol medication, for example, into the trash won't do much because that medication doesn't seem like something people would want to take illicitly. However, you're not dealing with only desperate drug users looking for a fix by looking through the trash.

Wildlife can break into trash cans and eat what's there, and medication can harm them. Children could get curious and look in a trash bin that hasn't yet been emptied in your kitchen, for example, and think the pills are candy. And you could have idiots grabbing the pills out of the trash and trying to sell them to others as fake recreational drugs. This can be especially troubling if the pills in question are custom-mixed prescriptions from a compounding pharmacy, because then you may be dealing with multiple medications in one capsule.

Potential for Help

When it comes to disposing of medications, you really do have a lot of simple options. Many cities and counties hold medication take-back days, where you just drop bottles, inhalers, and other items off and let the city or county deal with them. Other cities have specific drop-off programs; for example, the San Diego Police Department has drop-off boxes located in some substation lobbies. The city of Los Angeles accepts most medications through their SAFE household hazardous waste program. You can also check with hospitals and pharmacies regarding local programs.

If you don't want to wait for a take-back day and can't get to a disposal location, do this procedure from

  1. Dump the pills into a bag.
  2. Add enough water to make the pills start to dissolve.
  3. Add something no one would want to ingest, like sawdust or kitty litter.
  4. Seal it all up and then place that in the trash. Anyone who finds it really isn't going to be able to do anything with it.

Don't forget to remove labels from bottles you throw out in the trash -- that prevents people from learning what medications you are taking.

Do be aware that the Food and Drug Administration strongly advises flushing certain medications immediately because they're too dangerous to place in the trash, even if modified with litter and dust. If you have other questions about how to dispose of medication, ask a pharmacy or apothecary, such as Potter's House Apothecary, Inc, for quick guidance on programs available in your area.


17 February 2015

pregnancy, labor and delivery - working with a midwife

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