Warm weather is just around the corner, and we all know what that means. Spring cleaning! Time to get rid of all the junk you’ve accumulated throughout the year. But this year, don’t forget to clean out your medicine cabinet!
Most likely you have old prescription bottles with leftover medication that never got used. Maybe you’re keeping them “just in case” or perhaps you have medications from a loved one who has passed away. Now is the time to go through your medicine cabinet and spring clean!
What to Throw Away
It’s important to check expiration dates on all medicines, not only prescriptions. Don’t forget ointments, supplements and vitamins. Many medications lose their effectiveness after they expire and some may even become toxic. Many medications are not supposed to be exposed to light and pills can be affected by moisture from showers. Examine inside each bottle to see the condition of your medicine. A rule of thumb is to toss anything that is over a year old. If your medicine looks like it changed color, smell, or taste, it’s time to get rid of it. Any medications that are out of their bottle and can’t be identified need to be disposed of as well.
How to Dispose of Medications Properly
Because medications can potentially harm the environment, it is NOT recommended to flush medications down the toilet. Some advise that you can throw away medications in a sealed plastic bag with kitty litter or coffee grounds. This is debated as landfill drugs can potentially leach into the ground.
The best way to dispose of your old meds is at a pharmacy take-back program. Many pharmacies have kiosks for drug collections. These kiosks store discarded medications until they are transported to a plant where they are professional destroyed by incineration. Kiosks accept human and veterinary medications in pill, liquid, or patch form.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
The Drug Enforcement Administration is sponsoring National Prescription Drug Take Back Days throughout the United Sates (www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov).