With your mind on the changing season, you may be purging closets, vacuuming floors and washing windows — but there’s one crucial area of the house to keep in mind: your medicine cabinet. Every year, unused prescriptions and expired over-the-counter medicines clutter bathrooms, kitchen cupboards and drawers, posing a danger to everyone in your household. Now is a great time to clear out this safety hazard from your home, and do it in a way that’s also environmentally responsible.
The dangers of unused medications
Americans are prescribed billions of medications, but according to Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, approximately two-thirds of those pills go unused. Leaving unfinished prescriptions in your home poses a danger not only to children, but also to adults or teens who may be tempted to try the medications, or give or sell them to others. Nearly half of adolescents 12 and over who report misusing prescription pain relievers took or received the drugs from a friend or relative.
Over-the-counter medications also pose a hazard, especially to children. The CDC reports that approximately 60,000 young children are brought to the emergency room each year because they accessed medicines that were within reach or not disposed of properly. Make sure medications and supplements are safely stored up and away, in child-proof containers. Check all medications, including vitamins and supplements, for expiration dates, as expired medications may not only be ineffective, but potentially unsafe.
Safest disposal methods
There is a lot of misinformation about how to dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications without causing harm to people or the environment. Some counties sponsor drug take-back days or offer drop boxes, that allow you to bring in medications that you want to discard.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a drop-off site; that’s where at-home disposal is a useful option. If you want to safely and easily discard old medications and render them harmless at the same time, Deterra Drug Deactivation System Pouches are the only at-home medication disposal system that permanently deactivates over-the-counter and prescription medications. It is the safest, most effective choice to destroy and dispose of unused and expired medications. The pouches use activated carbon and tap water to render any medications inactive.
Environmentally sound disposal methods
Concerned about the environment while you clear out your prescriptions? In the past, many thought disposing of medications by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash was acceptable. However, it is clear that many ingredients in medications can pollute water and soil.
Activated carbon is organic, chemical-free and, once used, makes medication safe for disposal in normal household trash. Plus, it prevents harmful medications from contaminating landfills and water systems. Deterra pouches themselves are USDA-certified biobased, made from 50% or more plant-based material and manufactured in a factory using 100% wind generated power.
When you’re discarding your medications, don’t forget the bottles. Check containers for a recycling symbol, and consult your local recycling service for guidelines. Remove or obscure personal information on prescription labels, then rinse and dry containers to remove any residue before recycling.
A campaign to get rid of unused medications — for good
Since 2020, Deterra has partnered with SAFE Project, a national nonprofit working to end addiction, on the Gone for Good campaign, a pouch giveaway to help prevent medication misuse and increase access to at-home disposal resources. Admiral James and Mary Winnefeld founded SAFE Project after the tragic loss of their 19-year-old son Jonathan to an accidental opioid overdose.
“It’s so important for families to be aware of this issue, and to do whatever they can to keep family members safe,” said Admiral Winnefeld. “Regularly removing substances that could potentially be misused is one way to help protect everyone in your household from this very real danger.”
The April 2021 Gone for Good campaign will distribute 20,000 free at-home drug disposal pouches to U.S. households. Anyone in the continental United States can request a free pouch be mailed to them at DeterraSystem.com/SAFE.