Is your calendar handy? If so, be sure to make note of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which occurs on Saturday, April 30, 2016. The event encourages the safe and responsible disposal of prescription medications, offering convenient collection sites for the general public as well as educational information regarding the abuse of prescription drugs. The initiative will occur from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and we encourage you to locate a collection site in your area to dispose of any unused, expired, or unwanted drugs. Mark your calendar and spread the word, because National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is right around the corner.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.5 million Americans abuse controlled prescription drugs, and four out of five new heroin users start with prescription medications. Most of these people obtain the drugs from family members and friends, often by rummaging around in home medicine cabinets. To address this increasingly alarming issue, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) established National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The event educates the public and provides an opportunity to safely and properly dispose of any expired or unwanted prescription drugs.
How to Properly Dispose of Prescription Drugs
Too many Americans keep drugs they no longer need in their medicine cabinets, where they can easily be obtained by unknowing children or snooping guests. Even those who understand the importance of getting rid of old prescription drugs rarely do so in the correct way. Throwing old medications in the trash or flushing them down the toilet can create health and safety hazards. To properly dispose of medicines and prevent intentional and unintentional misuse, follow these guidelines:
- Take advantage of programs like National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day for proper disposal of your unused drugs.
- Never give old medications to friends or family members.
- Follow any specific disposal instructions that accompany a medication.
- Do not flush any prescription drugs down the sink or toilet unless the label specifically instructs you to do so.
- Contact your local law enforcement agencies, trash/recycling services, or the DEA to learn about your options for medication disposal. Ask if they sponsor take-back programs. They may also be able to provide a list of sites authorized to take back medications.
- If you aren’t sure how to dispose of a medication, you can also ask your pharmacist for help.
In the unlikely event that the medication’s label lacks instructions and there are no take-back programs in your area, remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with an “undesirable substance” like coffee grounds or kitty litter. Place this mixture in a sealable container (like a bag or can) to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking, and dispose of it. Finally, before recycling the container for the medication, scratch out your contact information and the name of the drug. This will protect your personal health information.
These guidelines may seem overly cautious, but they reduce the likelihood of several different types of dangerous incidents from taking place:
- First, they prevent children from unknowingly swallowing medications. Children are known to place random objects in their mouths, from toys and pens to keys and coins. Drugs are especially concerning, because their colorful appearance and small shape can resemble candy.
- Second, they prevent drug abuse and overdoses amongst knowing adults. If you simply throw your expired/unwanted drugs into the trash in their containers, they could be scavenged from the garbage.
- Third, they prevent the medication’s ingredients from harming others. For example, fentanyl can cause breathing problems if not properly flushed, and medical needles can pierce through garbage bags and stab someone.
- Fourth, they protect the environment by eliminating pollution and contamination. In addition to prescription drugs, remember to carefully dispose of needles and other medical sharps. If placed in a trash can or recycling bin, these objects can put sanitation workers, housekeepers, and other people at risk. Instead, place them in a disposable, puncture-proof container.
Although prescription medications are immensely beneficial in treating various conditions and diseases, they can also cause significant harm. To reduce accidental exposure or intentional misuse, take advantage of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
To get involved, locate a collection site near you to dispose of your own prescription drugs.
Finally, if you’re looking to implement a drug-free workplace through drug and alcohol testing, contact Employee Screening Services. Based in Springfield, St. Louis, and Kansas City, Missouri, and Indianapolis, Indiana, we offer customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and providers allows ESS to be available anytime, anywhere. For a free needs analysis, give us a call today at 1-888-379-7697 or contact us online. We would be happy to help!