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With some questionable health advice being posted by your friends on Facebook, politicians arguing about the state of the American healthcare system and a new medical study being summarized in just a sentence or two on TV---that seems to contradict the study you heard summarized yesterday---it can be overwhelming to navigate the ever-changing landscape of health news.

To Your Health: Safe Drug Disposal

C. VanHook (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Do you flush or throw away unused medication? Or, if you looked through your medicine cabinet right now, would it be like a museum of your and your family’s past illnesses? Any of those options are not ideal.

The three main dangers of these types of disposal include: negative environmental impact, poisoning, and opening the door to abuse. Flushing or throwing away medication can lead to drugs leaching into the water system. In recent years, a number of pharmaceutical-related chemicals have been found in waterways across the country and even in our drinking water.

Leaving old medication around can be a risk for accidental overdose in children and pets. Finally, knowing the basics of prescription disposal can help individuals better manage their medications to make it less likely that old drugs aren’t abused.

The FDA reports the best way to dispose of most types of unused or expired medicines (both prescription and over the counter) is to drop off the medicine at a drug take back site. If a take back site is not convenient to you, another option is to mix medicines with an unappealing substance such as cat litter or used coffee grounds, put the mixture in a plastic bag, and throw away the bag. Finally, a drug deactivation kit like Deterra uses activated carbon, rendering drugs inert, unavailable for misuse and safe for disposal in the normal trash.







Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs is an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership, Middle & Secondary Education. She writes for special publications of The Southeast Missourian and is a certified Community Health Worker.