It’s Spring Cleaning time and you may not realize you should start in your medicine cabinet. This Saturday April 30th 2016 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day so it’s a perfect time to tackle this task.
Most adults these days are getting one or more prescription medications from a physician, and we usually take them until they’re gone. But what about the medications we don’t use up or need anymore?
Q: “Can’t I just throw them away?”
It turns out that the answer is no.
We’ve learned in recent years that flushing medications down the toilet, throwing them in the trash, or even burying them exposes all of us to potentially dangerous chemicals.
That’s because, unlike food or other materials, the chemicals in many prescriptions don’t easily dissolve away, even in water or dirt. They remain intact and potentially potent, and can recirculate into our bodies through our drinking water, our food, and possibly even our air.
Q: “So, what should I do with medications I’m not using anymore?”
You could keep them in your home, but studies show that this creates a real health risk, especially if you’ve got young people around. Lots of kids and young adults overdose every year on prescription medications they find around the house. And it’s never a good idea to save old medications to potentially take later. You should always see a medical provider for a condition that may require a new prescription medication.
Clean out your medicine cabinet at least once a year, collect all of the medications you’re not using anymore, and return them to an authorized “Take Back” location. There are hundreds of designated Take Back locations across Colorado. At these locations (like pharmacies, and police and fire stations) trained professionals will collect your unused medications and make sure they get disposed of in a way the gets rid of the potentially dangerous chemicals inside.
That way, your home (and the people in it) are safer, and you’ve helped to protect Colorado’s water, food, and air.
Here’s all you need to do:
Step 1: Collect all of your unused medications.
Step 2: Find a designated “Take Back” location near you.
Step 3: Drop off your medications and go about your day. Dropping off is fast and easy, and it only takes a few minutes.
Thanks for doing your part to keep medications safer and for keeping you and Colorado healthier!
Rick May, M.D.
Senior Medical Director, Pinnacol Assurance