We’ve all done it at some point — used our medicine cabinets to stack up old prescriptions like canned goods in a food pantry. Eventually they must go, but it’s important to dispose of them safely. And sending medications down the drain or toilet is not the way to go.
Since medicine doesn’t lose potency just because it’s expired, flushing it away doesn’t mean it’s gone. Research has linked water contamination via prescription disposal with abnormalities in aquatic species like fish and octopus. When medicines are flushed or thrown in the garbage, they also can get into local waters.
So the saying, “There must be something in the water” might actually ring true. Scary, right?
Aside from environmental reasons, removing prescription drugs from your medicine cabinet also helps keep them out of the hands of your loved ones. Consider some of these statistics:
- According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. And many people are getting their pills through friends or relatives, often by raiding the family medicine cabinet.
- Aside from alcohol and marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter drugs are the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. More than 60% of teens say they use prescription drugs because they’re easy to get from parents’ medicine cabinets.
- Studies have shown that many people who inject heroin reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.
- In 2013, a study found that the number of children being accidentally poisoned by adult prescriptions was on the rise.
These very serious numbers prompted the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to create National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in 2010. The idea: Offer a safe and anonymous way for people to get rid of expired or unwanted medications. The program has led to the collection of more than 11.8 million pounds of prescription drugs nationally since its start – that’s about 5,900 tons of pills.
The next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, Oct. 26. All you need to do is take your unused or expired prescriptions to one of the designated drop-off locations near you.
As the state’s largest health insurers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are committed to improving the value and quality of life in communities across Michigan. As a part of this commitment, BCBSM and BCN have supported the DEA’s Drug Take Back Day since 2011.
Looking for more information on how to safely dispose of your prescriptions? You may also like these posts:
- Tips for Prescription Safety, Storage and Disposal
- Dental Prescriptions and the Dangers of Teen Drug Abuse
- The Dangers of Sharing Medicine
Photo credit: flattop341