5 Steps to Safely Dispose of your Unused Medications

What do you do with your prescription medication once you don’t need it anymore? Do you toss it in the trash? Flush it down the toilet? Or do you stash it in your medicine cabinet (or for some of us, purse) just in case you might want it again in the future? If you answered yes to any of the above, you might find these statistics chilling:

  • Next to marijuana, the most common illegal drugs teens are using to get high are prescription medications.
  • According to the 2010 Missouri Student Survey, 1 in 8 Springfield youth (compared to 1 in 10 Missouri youth) reported abusing prescription pain medications to get high.
  • 70% of teens obtained prescription drugs from a friend or relative.

Here’s how to properly dispose of unused medications:

  1. Take the medication out of the original container and remove the labels. Pour medication into a sealable plastic bag.
  2. If medication is a solid (pill, liquid capsule) crush it or add water to dissolve.
  3. Add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds, dirty diapers or any material that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for pets and/or children.
  4. Seal the bag and dispose of it in the trash OR participate in the National Take Back Initiative II on Saturday, April 30 from 10am to 2pm. Contact Mary Moore at the Community Partnership for more information about local Take Back sites. Email: mmoore@commpartnership.org or call (417) 888-2020 for details about specific location pick ups.

Do NOT flush unused medications down the sink or toilet. Doing will cause medications to flow into your city’s sewer system to a wastewater treatment facility. Unfortunately, municipal wastewater treatment may not always remove medications or their by-products thus causing “treated” waste water to flow into waterways where waterways and wildlife meet.

Further information regarding proper disposal of unused medications can be found by contacting the Springfield/Greene County Health Department (417) 864-1658 www.springfieldmo.gov/health.  Statistics provided by Community Partnership resources www.commpartnership.org and www.smartxdisposal.net.

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