Destroy your unused medicine safely


Health in the Hills

By Brittany Dixon, M.S.
Scientific Writer at
TransPharm Preclinical Solutions

Prescription and over-the-counter medications are necessary for treating disease and saving lives, but they can also cause serious public health and safety concerns.

A 2017 survey showed that 6 million Americans have misused prescription drugs, and the majority of these were acquired from family and friends, often without their knowledge. When taken without a prescription or under a doctor’s supervision, pharmaceuticals can be just as dangerous as street drugs. In fact, the misuse of prescription drugs is the second most common form of drug abuse in the country.

Additionally, nearly 60,000 children – mostly toddlers – are accidentally poisoned each year by getting into medicines they shouldn’t have. And people aren’t the only ones at risk. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports that human medications are the most common toxin ingested by pets.

National Drug Take Back Day provides an opportunity for you to make a difference by preventing accidental poisoning, drug abuse and addiction, and overdose deaths. By cleaning out your medicine cabinet of expired or unwanted pills, you can help keep drugs out of the wrong hands (or paws).In 2018, over 931 tons (or 1.9 million pounds!) of prescription drugs were collected through two National Drug Take Back Days. This year, the first Take Back Day is Saturday, April 27. But you’re in luck! In the Irish Hills, we are fortunate to have several collection sites that accept drugs every day of the year. The Columbia Township Police Department (8500 Jefferson Road in Brooklyn, MI) has a drop box for solid medications, liquid medications, and controlled substances. Not from this area? Click here to find a collection site near you.

Importantly, drug take back programs allow medication to be destroyed safely. This is crucial because common methods of disposal pose hazards to human health and our environment. When drugs are tossed out with the trash, they can be recovered and abused or sold illegally. Alternatively, flushing pills down the toilet contaminates our water supply. Rest assured that all medications collected through Drug Take Back Day and other authorized drop boxes are incinerated and never repackaged, resold, or donated.

You may legally dispose of any member of your household’s pharmaceuticals, including pets. Before bringing unwanted or expired pharmaceutical drugs to your local collection site, remove the medication from the prescription bottle and place it into an unmarked sealed bag or container. This ensures that no personally identifiable information is shared and that you remain anonymous. Over-the-counter drugs may be dropped off in their original packaging.

Thank you for doing your part to keep our community safe!

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