How to safely dispose of your prescription drugs

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As we work our way through the cold and flu season, many of us will be left with unused prescription drugs in our homes.

Add to that other prescription drugs sitting around the house for other medical issues and you’ve got a lot of medicines that can become dangerous if they are disposed of improperly or fall into the hands of someone who shouldn’t be taking them.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Health, the average North Carolinian fills 17 prescriptions annually and studies show that as much as 40 percent of the drugs dispensed are never used.

When you add all that up, that’s a lot of medicines out there which have the potential to harm.

Twice a year, the SBI collects unused medicines as part of Operation Medicine Drop.

The pills are taken to a secret location where they are burned. During the last collection event, several tons of prescription meds were trucked away for incineration before they could end up in the wrong hands.

“These prescription pain killers are incredibly dangerous,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. “They are a magnet to young people looking to mess around and to people with addiction who are trying to feed their habit.”

So what do you do with your unused pills?

You shouldn’t flush them because that can allow them into the water supply once the flush water is treated. You also should never just throw them out because you don’t know where they’ll end up.

Disposing of them during a periodic drug collection event is an option. Or, if you don’t want to wait, you can take them to a drop off location where they have locked collection boxes.

Many local public safety locations, pharmacies, and social service agencies have these boxes.

Also, if you buy your prescriptions from Walmart your opioids now come with a packet from Dispose RX which contains a specialized powder. It’s free for any customer filling a prescription for a class II opioid like Morphine or OxyCotin.

Here’s how it works.

Once a patient is done with their medication, they’ll dump the contents of the packet into their pill bottle, add warm water, shake it for about 30 seconds.

In about 10 minutes, the drugs have been converted into a gel-like substance that you can then safely dispose of in the trash.

Walmart claims the gel material is non-toxic, biodegradable and safe if accidentally ingested.

And that’s important, because the North CArolina Department Of Public Health says since 1999, 91 percent of all unintentional poisonings were caused by prescription or over-the-counter medications.

To learn more about Unintentional Poisoning from Prescription Drugs check this link from the North Carolina Department of Public Health.

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