Many people do not know when they should dispose of their medicines or even how to dispose of them. Today there
are many people who are opposed to taking medications for their ailments and are averse to being prescribed any sort of pain medicine. Some people have drawers or cabinets filled with unused medications that they keep them around in the event of a “just in case” scenario, or some that have expired since the doctor prescribed them. While many medications have expiration dates, many people have found that they have stored their medicines way past expiration.
If a prescription has disposable instructions on the label, simply follow the instructions given by the pharmacist since that is the safest bet. Many want to throw unused pills away. To do this, simply mix them with an unpalatable substance, such as coffee grounds or kitty litter and toss them away. Another way to dispose of unused pills is at a pharmacy. Some pharmacies offer a “take back” program which will accept unused medication with no questions asked.
You can also check with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who periodically hosts a “take back” event, called National Prescription Drug Take-Back. This is an easy way to hand off the prescriptions to a reputable agency and not fear that they will fall in the wrong hands. When in doubt ask your doctor’s office if they will take the unused medication back. Or even ask doctors for smaller amounts of your prescription, many people do not want to take all the pain medications prescribed to them so having less pills prescribed is the best bet of not having extra pills. There are many people who want to flush their unused pills which is safe but there are some exceptions of course. To act on the safe side, visit the FDA website, fda.gov, for a list of safe to flush medicines. The FDA as well as many other websites have lists of “do’s” and “do not’s” of how to dispose of the unused medications.
A few helpful hints to keep in mind when disposing of medications: always make sure that the labels on any prescription bottles have been removed. While this seems like a challenging task because of how sticky the label can be, you may want to try using a hair blow dryer to make the label less sticky and easy to peel off. When in doubt there is always scissors which can be used to scrape away the label or a Sharpie that can be used to cover all your info. Labels tend to have a patient’s name and sometimes address on the label and it is advisable not to throw away or donate a bottle with your name and home address on it.
You may also want to check with your doctor before disposing of a medication you no longer take. Some pain medicines offer anti-inflammatory components which could be a reason why a doctor prescribed the medication in the first place. While there are some people who think that there is no harm in not finishing a couple of pills that were prescribed, a doctor may have issued the pills for a specific reason.
Never simply give your prescriptions to a relative or friend. You do not know how another person will react to a drug that was intended for you.