|Millions of Americans improperly dispose of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Tossing unwanted drugs in the trash or flushing them down the toilet can be potentially harmful, leading to accidental poisoning of children and pets, misuse by unintended recipients and water contamination.As you are likely aware, prescription drug abuse continues to be the nation’s fastest growing drug problem. In fact, every day in the United States, 2,500 youth abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time. Between 60 and 70 percent cite their home’s medicine cabinet as their source for obtaining the drugs. What’s more, an investigation into the nation’s water supply found that 41 million Americans had trace amounts of drugs in their drinking water. And 80 percent of sampled rivers and streams contained low levels of pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids.This serious problem isn’t a new one, but as the use of medications in the U.S. continues to rise, so will the harmful effects that come with their improper disposal. Many healthcare facilities are taking measures to educate patients on safe disposal practices. If you aren’t already doing so, or are looking for more ideas, keep reading for some helpful tips you can share with your patients.|
How to properly dispose of medications
Many local law enforcement agencies house permanent drug drop boxes where residents can safely dispose of expired and unused medications at any time. The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) can help you find a drug drop box near you. Let your patients know where they can safely drop their unwanted medications. Have a basket of pill boxes and pill cutters available with the message “Safe Rx Disposal = Safer Communities,” and imprint your local drug drop-box site locations on them.
Remember, keeping medications out of the hands of unintended users, out of reach of our children and pets, and out of our water supply is easy, if we follow safe disposal practices. We hope you’ve picked up a tip or two you can share with your patients.
“External Medicine: Discarded Drugs May Contaminate 40 Million Americans’ Drinking Water.” Scientific American Global RSS. N.p., 16 Sep. 2011. Web. Retrieved 05 Feb. 2014.
“2013 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary.” www.justice.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 8 Feb. 2014.
“Statistics of Prescription Drug Abuse, Overdosing, Emergency Room Visits: Foundation for a Drug-Free World.” Statistics of Prescription Drug Abuse, Overdosing, Emergency Room Visits: Foundation for a Drug-Free World. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 05 Feb. 2014.
“DEA Event.” — Take Back Your Meds. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 08 Feb. 2014.
“Other Medicine Take-Back Disposal Options.” — Take Back Your Meds. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 08 Feb. 2014.
“How to Dispose of Unused Medications.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 08 Feb. 2014.