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A Guide to Simple and Safe Disposal of Medications

June 21, 2016   |   Alliance for Aging Research Team   |   Prevention, Medication Safety

June serves as National Safety Month. It’s a reminder for us to think about the ways we can keep ourselves and those around us safe, whether it’s on the road, in the workplace, or at home.

For National Safety Month, we’ve been focused on medication safety. This includes safe disposal of medications.

Did you know that 40 percent of all medications go unused? If they aren’t disposed of properly, they can pose hazards to the health of everyone in your home.

You might think that disposing of medications would be a difficult or annoying proposition. But it doesn’t have to be.

First, check the label to see if there are any specific disposal instructions. There are a few medications that you should flush because they can be harmful if people or pets get into them.

If there are no specific instructions, you can dispose of them at local take-back programs through the DEA or your local community, pharmacy, or law enforcement agency.

If no take-back program is available, you can dispose of all over-the-counter medications and most prescription medications at home in three simple steps.

First, remove the medication from its original container and mix it with something undesirable like kitty litter, dirt, coffee grounds, or laundry detergent. This makes the medication less appealing and recognizable to children, pets, or those actively seeking drugs.

The next step is to seal the mixture in a bag, can, or other container. It’s important to make sure your container doesn’t leak. Preferably, it would not be see-through.

And, finally, throw your unused medications in the trash.

There you have it. It’s that simple!

If you have more questions about safe medication disposal, you can watch our short film below that offers a complete overview of the issue.

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