We all have them – those pesky bottles of over-the-counter or prescription medications that have expired or gone unused for years. They’re in the back of your bathroom drawer or on the top shelf of your medicine cabinet. Well, you’re not alone. Did you know the average American household has four pounds of prescribed and over-the-counter medicines?
Here’s the concern: those prescriptions are items that we don’t want to fall into our kids’ hands, either by accident, or because someone’s looking for a way to get high. Teens have stated that prescription medicines are easier to get than beer because they can access them from their friends’ and families’ medicine cabinets. Yet, safely getting rid of unused medications can be confusing. You don’t want to simply dump them in the trash or, worse yet, follow the old disposal method of flushing them down the toilet. Eighty percent of the sampled streams across the U.S. contain small amounts of pharmaceutical residues.
Fortunately, there’s now a better, safer solution to getting rid of those troubling medicines. The La Jara Pharmacy now has a new household medication drop box that is ready to receive these worrisome pharmaceuticals. Here’s how to use the drop box. First, gather your unused or expired prescriptions, over the counter medications, or even vitamins. Second, cross out your name on any labels or containers (for your privacy). Finally, place the meds in the drop box, containers and all. Other medications like ointments, liquids, and patches are okay as well. (There are some limits on what you can’t drop off and those are posted on the drop box). The La Jara Pharmacy then packages the discarded materials and sends them off to a state contractor where they are safely incinerated.
Disposing of unused or out-of-date medications does three things: it removes them from temptation and possible abuse or misuse; it clears out a storage problem; most importantly, it gives you peace of mind that those vexing medications are no longer a worry or a complication in your life.
We salute the La Jara Pharmacy for being pro-active and thoughtful in participating in the Colorado Household Medication Take-Back Program. This is a major expansion of the “Take Meds Seriously” effort led by the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. For questions about what drugs can be disposed of safely, visit TakeMedsBack.org.
Anna Lee Vargas is the director of Project Management and Community Outreach at Conejos Clean Water.