By Jo Ann Hummers on October 21, 2020
Unused or expired medications may be used by someone other than the person for whom the medications were prescribed. This can be dangerous or even fatal. Suggestions about what you can do with unused meds are offered by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) website:
“Most people who misuse prescription drugs get them from family, friends, and acquaintances. You can make a difference by keeping track of the medicine you have, by rethinking where and how you keep your medications in your home, and by safely disposing of any unused medications.”
They remind us that young people with family members on prescription opioids are more than twice as likely to overdose on pain meds.
Their suggestions regarding keeping others safe from abusing medications include:
Keep track of your legally prescribed controlled substances – that is, count your pills so you always know how much you should have and so you know when to take action if any go missing. With controlled substances, sharing is NOT caring. You could be putting your loved ones at risk, and unintentionally contribute to drug misuse, drug addiction, or a fatal drug overdose.
Everyone knows to keep medicine “out of the reach of children” but once your children become teens, there’s a good chance they can “reach” all medicines in your home and they know exactly where you keep what. Many people keep their medicine in easy to reach, easy to access cupboards, medicine cabinets, drawers, etc. So put your medicine somewhere that only you can easily find and access. Lock it up if you can. This will keep your medicine from unintentionally ending up in the wrong hands and just may save someone’s life!”
One way to dispose of unused or expired medications is to take them to a Year-Round Drop Box in the community. On the Outer Banks the Walgreens and CVS pharmacies have boxes available. Most of the police departments and also the Sheriff’s Department have drop boxes or will receive such medications. It is advisable to call ahead before you go to be sure when this service is available.
Walgreens Pharmacy offers a drug deactivation bag at no charge for smaller meds. The medication is placed in the bag. The bag is then filled with water and sealed and can then be placed in the trash. Additional information about available disposal sites can be obtained from the Department of Health & Human Services in Manteo.
Jo AnnHummers, EdD, is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist, with a private practice at the Nags Head Professional Center. She provides DWI assessments and treatment, smoking cessation sessions, and treatment for gambling and other addictions.