Oh, the good ol days…when we thought flushing unused meds down the toilet was a good idea. We’ve now learned otherwise. Our meds – and we use a lot of them – have the potential to disrupt the biology of our waterways. Keeping them around provides a lot of potential for harm, too. Theft of medications is one of the most prevalent ways that opioids are available on the street.
Saving prescription drugs for later use is also a bad idea; sure, you may feel the need to keep your painkiller for the next time you have pain, but here are the ways in which you could be breaking the law:
- Taking a prescription drug for a reason other than the one for which it was prescribed;
- Having a prescription drug outside the original container, such as carrying it in your pocket, unless you’re actually taking it;
- Taking a prescription for the purpose for which it was prescribed but it’s more than a year later; and,
- Giving your prescription drug to anyone else for any reason.
So what should we do? Safely dispose of unused medications immediately after use in the following ways:
Kenosha County offers free, permanent disposal locations for unused, unwanted, and expired medication. No pre-registration or personal information is required. Simply drop off your meds after you’ve removed (peeled off or blacked out) any identifying information. Acceptable items for drop off are:
- Over the counter medication
- Prescription medication
- Pet medication
- Kenosha County Safety Building
- Pleasant Prairie Police Department
- UW-Parkside Police Department
- Town of Salem Lakes Village Hall
- Silver Lake Village Hall
- Twin Lakes Police Department
Visit this website for more information: http://www.kenoshacounty.org/314/MedicationNeedle-Disposal
One other place in Kenosha for medication disposal is the Walgreens on 80th Street.
So what if you can’t get to a medication disposal site?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following steps if you have no access to DEA-authorized collectors (which you DO!):
- Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds;
- Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
- Throw the container in your household trash;
- Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of the container.
And, as an absolute last resort in order to keep highly addictive prescription drugs off the street, the FDA recommends flushing certain medications if you have no access to DEA-authorized collectors…which you DO! https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/ensuringsafeuseofmedicine/safedisposalofmedicines/ucm186187.htm#recommend
There is a lot of potential for harm from prescription drugs, so please dispose of them properly. And if you’re not sure, ask. Uncomfortable conversations save lives.