Safe Disposal of Prescriptions: Don’t Contribute to the Epidemic

22. July 2016

There are many substances to which a person could become addicted, each with its own set of risks and dangers. Over the years, rates of addiction have continued to climb. We know more about addiction than ever before, but with that knowledge has come the realization that there’s no straightforward way for an addict to overcome his or her addiction. On the contrary, there are many different ways for a person to overcome an addiction and each addict’s recovery requires a unique combination of treatments and recovery services. In fact, virtually every addict’s recovery journey is different.

When it comes to combatting the addiction epidemic that we’re facing right now, addiction treatment is typically the focus. Currently, it’s believed that there are at least 14,000 addiction treatment centers in the U.S. alone. That shows just how strong a focus that there is on the seeking of more effective treatment methods of addiction. But there are more strategies in effect than just addiction treatment. In fact, one of these strategies involves knowing the safe disposal of prescriptions that are either unneeded or expired. And that’s what we’re going to be discussing today, but first, let’s talk about the problem at hand.

The Prescription Drug Problem

The current opioid epidemic can be traced back to pretty much a single point in time, which was when Purdue Pharma released the powerful opioid painkiller called OxyContin. It contained high levels of a substance called oxycodone, one of the most well-known opiate substances that had previously only been available in medications that didn’t contain the substance at extremely high concentrations. Additionally, Purdue Pharma made a major push for doctors and physicians to prescribe OxyContin as much as they could. As a result, the number of prescriptions of opioid painkillers like OxyContin and others skyrocketed. With so many people taking OxyContin, there were more and more people becoming addicted to the drugs, resulting in something of an opioid epidemic.

Since the release of OxyContin and the subsequent OxyContin addiction spike, there have been many other pharmaceuticals released, and a number of them have proven to have a high abuse potential. Drugs like benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants, sedatives, and even sleep medications are just some of them; there are also pharmaceutical stimulants — specifically medications for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder — that have proven to be prone to abuse. There have been a number of initiatives created for the purposes of mitigating this serious addiction epidemic, one of which is providing people with the knowledge about the safe disposal of prescriptions.

Properly Taking Pharmaceutical Drugs

When a person is prescribed a medication for a medical or health problem, the individual is provided with instructions for how the drug should be taken. Most substances can be extremely dangerous, even lethal if taken any way other than how the individual is instructed to take them. For this reason, it’s extremely important that a person prescribed medication takes it only as prescribed. This is also the only way for the individual to have his or her medical issue treated since there are therapeutic and nontherapeutic levels of medications. In other words, for most substances, if you take too much or too little of them it’s not helpful to the conditions for which the medications are prescribed.

syringe disposal in garbage can

Safe Disposal of Prescriptions

Part of the issue that causes people to abuse or misuse their medications is having medications around when they’re not needed. Even when a person doesn’t have any history of substance abuse and wouldn’t typically be interested in alcohol or drug use, having unneeded medications around makes substance abuse an option when it otherwise wouldn’t be one is never a good idea. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to safely dispose of prescription drugs.

The first and most preferable course of action would be to find a medication take-back program. Virtually any doctor’s office, hospital, and other medical care providers will be able to point a person in the right direction, helping them to find the nearest medication disposal program. Alternately, if there’s not a disposal program location near to one’s home or town, flushing the medication is another option. This prevents the medication from remaining in one’s home, ensures that anyone who shouldn’t have access to the drug is not able to take it. Additionally, it’s been suggested that a person should mix the medication into a substance that’s unpalatable — old food, used cat litter, and other such undesirable substances — before disposing of it in the garbage.

Generally, most pharmaceutical medications can be disposed of in any of the aforementioned ways. However, there are certain substances where it’s recommended that they only be disposed of in certain ways. There are a number of federal lists of such drugs that identify these special substances and the ways in which they should be disposed of. Again, if it isn’t realistic for the individual to dispose of the drug in the way that’s provided, using one of the above methods can be used as a last resort.

Not Making a Bad Problem Worse

It’s important to know of these techniques for disposing of unneeded drugs for a number of reasons. For one thing, it keeps these drugs out of the reach of individuals for whom they weren’t intended and who may seek them for the purposes of abuse. It also minimizes the chances of accidental overdose. If it’s a controlled substance like an opioid painkiller or benzodiazepine, disposing of the drug can help a person avoid giving into temptation. Therefore, one should always be aware of which safe disposal options are available in one’s area.

Choose Life. Choose Health. Choose Intervention Services.

If you or someone you love would like to discuss the treatment options that are available, call Intervention Services toll-free at 877-478-4621. We’re available anytime, day or night, to help you or your loved one overcome addiction and begin the journey back to health and happiness. Don’t wait another day to start becoming a better, sober you. A better life is only a single phone call away.