Storing unused or expired medications in your home can cause a potential risk to children, teenagers, seniors, or others in your home. Improperly disposing of drugs, however, can also pose a threat to the environment. When you are no longer in need of prescription or over-the-counter medications, dispose of them safely using the tips that follow.
The Dangers of Storing Medications in Your Home
Storing unused medications in your home that you are not actively taking could pose a danger to anyone in your household who may inadvertently or intentionally misuse the product. The following groups are particularly at risk:
Prescription medication misuse—whether intentional or inadvertent—could result in severe consequences such as dependency, an accidental overdose, or in the worst case scenario, death.
The Dangers of Improperly Disposing of Medications
When over-the-counter or prescription medications, including pills and liquids, are disposed of using unsafe practices, they can have detrimental effects on the environment when they end up in waterways or landfills. Scientists have found that when pharmaceutical-related chemicals leach into our water system, they not only impact marine life, but they can affect humans by contaminating drinking water supplies. Studies have found that exposure to chemicals such as antibiotics, anti-depressants, steroids, seizure medications, and painkillers are changing the growth, reproduction, and behavior of many species, including frogs and fish—fish that are part of the human food cycle.
The long-term effects of such dangerous food and water supply contamination are not fully known. However, with some awareness of these dangers, and a small amount of effort, the millions of Americans who take medications daily can help to mitigate the impact of these dangers on our environment, and our loved ones.
How to Safely Dispose of Unused Medications
The quick and safe disposal of unused medications from your home ensures the greatest safety for family, friends, and the environment. If you have any questions about what to do with your unused medications or would like more information, visit the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).