It’s that time of year, winter blues are being swept away, temperatures are rising, and spring cleaning is in full effect.  Do you participate in spring cleaning?  Whether you do or you don’t, there is one item that needs to be on your checklist; clearing out your medicine cabinets.   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription drug misuse is on the rise.   Nearly two million Americans abused prescription painkillers in 2013 and each day, almost 7,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for using these drugs in a manner other than as directed.

Have you kept pain medication “just in case?”  Have you held on to your child’s allergy medicine simply because they may need it again?  According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, expired medications can be dangerous. The chemical composition of medication can change over time, rendering it less effective and potentially harmful. To help limit the potential for improper use, safely secure your medications in a locked box or properly dispose of unneeded prescriptions.  Removing old medications from the home can prevent others from using medications prescribed to someone else. 

Did you know you can dispose of your prescription medications at home?  Follow these simple precautions for safe disposal of medications:

  • Take unneeded and expired prescription drugs out of their original containers
  • Place medication in a sealable bag or container and mix with an undesirable substance, such as dirt, used coffee grounds, or cat litter
  • Keep medication in its original form (e.g. do not crush)
  • Throw containers in the trash for disposal, do not flush down the toilet or sink, this may result in contaminating the waterways

For more information on proper disposal of prescription drugs contact your local Substance Abuse Counseling Center.  The Drug Enforcement Administration also has National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day events. For a list of local safety disposal sites visit http://www.dea.gov.