Why Keeping Expired Medications Is a Bad Idea
As you’re making your spring-cleaning checklist this year, don’t forget to include your medicine cabinet. Taking a few minutes to sort through and safely dispose of medicine that’s expired or no longer needed is important for your health and the safety of others.
Why Safe Disposal Is Necessary
Taking medicine past its expiration date can be risky. Once a medicine is expired, the chemical makeup can change so it may not work like it’s supposed to. Drugs may also decrease in strength over time so they aren’t as effective as they should be. And if a medicine sits around too long, it can grow bacteria that could also make you sick.
In addition, prescription medicine abuse is a major problem. Keeping medicine that’s expired or no longer needed in your home means other people in your life could have access to it. Most people who abuse prescription medicines, for instance, get them from family or friends.
How to Safely Dispose of Medicine
Check your medicine labels. Some provide instructions for safe disposal. Never flush medicine down the sink or toilet unless the label directs you to do so.
If there are no instructions, a drug take-back program is the best way to dispose of medicine. Each year there are two National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days where you can bring unused or expired drugs to an authorized location.
You can also turn medication in for disposal year-round. To find an authorized collector, visit https://takebackday.dea.gov and click on “Collection Site Locator.
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