Removing expired medications from your medicine cabinet is important, but how should it be done? There are right and wrong ways to get rid of your old prescriptions.
Expired medications should not be kept around your house. These medications can become dangerous to use due to changes in their chemical composition over time. As it ages, every prescription drug can also become less effective. Keeping old prescriptions around also increases the risk of having someone else, such as a child, take them accidentally. Knowing how to dispose of prescription drugs helps eliminate these risks.
When to Get Rid of Prescription Drugs
How long is a prescription good for? Prescription medications should only be used up until their expiration date. Most prescription drugs are good for one to five years after the date they were manufactured. After they have expired, these medications undergo chemical changes that can lower their potency or make them harmful to take. Bacteria can also grow in some expired medications, making them dangerous to consume. According to the FDA, expired prescription drugs should be disposed of as soon as possible in order to lower the risk of having them taken accidentally by another person or misused.
How to Dispose of Prescription Drugs
Most prescription drugs should not be flushed down the toilet or thrown in the garbage. Flushing them down the toilet or putting them down a drain can have harmful effects on local water supplies and wildlife or contaminate food supplies. Keep in mind that the FDA does recommend flushing certain medications, such as Oxycodone and Fentanyl, down the toilet when you don’t need them anymore in order to keep children, pets, and other family members as safe as possible. Always check the label on medications to see if any disposal instructions are included.
Throwing medications in the garbage increases the risk of having these drugs stolen and misused by individuals. They also end up in landfills, where they can pollute the ground. Medications in household trash cans can also be found and accidentally ingested by children or pets. When getting rid of expired medications, avoid these methods of disposal:
- Mixing prescription drugs with cat litter or coffee grounds. This is sometimes suggested as a way to deter theft, but it is not considered effective.
- Crushing pills, which can expose you or others in your home to pill dust.
The safest way to dispose of prescription drugs is by using a medicine take-back program in your area. The local police department in Benton, as well as police departments in other cities and towns, has these programs available. Some communities also have National Prescription Drug Take-Back events hosted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). All you have to do is bring your expired prescription drugs to your local police department or another location that has a secure drop-box for medications. Some prescription drug manufacturers also offer mail-back programs that allow you to send your expired medications to a designated location.
In Benton, Arkansas, you can dispose of your unused medications at the Benton Police Department as part of their Drug Take Back program.
If you have any questions about how to dispose of prescription drugs, contact Smith-Caldwell Drug Store at (501) 404-2740. Drug Take Back program