Safely Dispose of Unused Prescription Drugs

Prescription drug abuse is still a growing problem in our country. Our society needs to have a greater awareness of the dangers of prescription drugs, and how to prevent their abuse.

An estimated 70% of people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or family. (1) This is because it’s easy. Walking into a friend or family member’s bathroom and taking a few pills out doesn’t take much planning ahead or boldness – the pills are there, and the person is by themselves with the door closed and locked. It is easy; and it happens too often.

Permanent Drop Off Locations

The government has held several National Drug Take Back days, times when people throughout the country can take their prescription pills in to have them disposed of properly. The Take Back days have been very successful and in two years collected more than 300 tons of pills. The most recent Take Backs were held this past October, but more and more communities are setting up their own permanent take back boxes. These secure boxes are installed at police departments to allow for safe drop offs at any time. Montana’s take back boxes have been up and running since 2010, with 11 locations statewide. “The immediate success of the prescription drug drop box program shows Montanans are worried about the invisible epidemic of prescription drug abuse,” Attorney General Steve Bullock said. (2)

How Can You Safely Dispose of Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drug drop offs give people an easy way to keep drugs out of the hands of users. It is more secure than the old methods of disposing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet. These old methods raise concerns because people who are desperate enough can go through people’s garbage for drugs, and flushing drugs down the toilet can contaminate the water supply. The drop offs are also anonymous, adding to the appeal for people to make use of them. “This method has been proven to be safe and effective,” said Greg Tochtrop, assistant professor of chemistry and pharmacology at Case Western Reserve University. (3) “People shouldn’t be afraid to use the drop boxes. We aren’t going to check labels for names and we’re not going to monitor who uses the drop-off points,” a Mesquite, Nevada Drug Task Force agent remarked. (2)

The goal is to have drop boxes set up in police stations across the country. This is an easy way to ensure that expired or unused drugs do not get into the wrong hands. All it will take is some education and awareness for the public. The more we tell people of the risks of prescription drugs on the street, in homes, and in schools, the more lives we can save. “All of us have drugs in our medicine cabinet that are outdated and people don’t know what to do with them,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Take them to the drop offs rather than flushing them down the toilet.” (3)

If you’re interested in learning more about prescription drug abuse, read our articles on Ambien addiction and treatment options and prescription drug abuse during pregnancy, or call our prescription drug addiction helpline.

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Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.