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I know drug disposal isn’t exactly your everyday topic – and truly may not be one you think about at all – but I do promise it’s important. Here on the blog I’ve always strived to focus on “no BS tips for better living” and give reasonable, achievable advice to live more sustainably and healthfully. From patient safety to the safety of unintended hands around the house (like children and pets), learning how to dispose of expired or unwanted drugs properly can keep people safe and even help the environment.
Let’s talk about how.
Prescription drugs can be miracles of modern medicine, curing and clearing ailments for millions of patients across the globe. I am; however, one of the many impacted by the misuse and/or abuse of prescription drugs. I’m definitely not alone. In 2017, an estimated 18 million people (more than 6 percent of those aged 12 and older) misused medications at least once in the past year (source).
This means there are so many people – friends and family members alike – that either are dealing with this problem themselves or know someone who is. It’s because of these staggering numbers that it’s so vitally important to know how to safely dispose of drugs when they’ve expired or are no longer needed – rather than leave them sitting around the house.
Drug efficacy is incredibly important to ensure patients are getting priority care – and with effective medicines that work exactly as they’re prescribed. According to the FDA, expired medicines not only can reduce in strength, but also can become unsafe due to a change in chemical composition or even bacterial growth. A worst case scenario of using expired medications is that their reduced strength may no longer help to treat the disease at hand, resulting in a worsening illness that may be harder to treat in the long run.
As soon as drugs have expired, it’s time to get them out of the house. Expired drugs don’t treat the patient as intended and can even cause harm
Expired drugs may pose some risk to patients, but drugs falling into unintended hands can have unfortunate consequences. All prescription medications should be stored in a safe, secure place inaccessible to children and pets. Since 2003, more drug overdoses occur annually from prescription medicines than cocaine and heroin combined – some of which may be attributed to youth in the home getting ahold of medicine not intended for them.
Medicines are not meant to be flushed down the toilet. Drugs that are disposed of via flushing down the drain means they ultimately get dissolved and absorbed into our water system. Polluted water puts more strain on the system to purify and can, in some cases, result in polluted water becoming accessible to wildlife and local communities. Keeping unwanted and expired drugs out of our water system is good for the environment!
I’m all about finding positive solutions to everyday problems. There is an amazing program available in San Francisco that makes disposing of drugs easy. The LifeInCheck Consumer Drug Take-back™ service is free to use, turning drug disposal hassle-free process.
LifeInCheck Consumer Drug Take-back™ kiosks and mail-back envelopes are stationed conveniently throughout the city. Find a location nearest to you here.
The LifeInCheck Consumer Drug Take-back™ offers a handy mail-back service. Visit a participating mail-back distribution location to pick up a free, prepaid envelope to mail in unwanted or expired medications. You can also request a free prepaid envelope be sent to your home here. Consolidate your medicine into a plastic zip bag (or as few containers as possible). Simply place your medicine into the envelope and seal.
Separate packages must be used for standard medicines (pills, liquids, and creams), pre-filled injectors, and inhalers. Injectors do require a specific envelope. You can request an injector mail-back package here.
After sealing your envelope filled with your expired or unwanted medicines, simply drop your envelope into the collection receptacle or mail-in.
Residents Can Still Request a Mail-Back Package Online or by Phone
Yep – safe, responsible drug disposal is that easy.
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