If you’re like many people, there are probably a few unused or expired prescription medications in your bathroom or cabinets.
But it’s important to think twice before you just toss them in the trash.
Did you know those pill bottles, inhalers and creams are a public safety issue? Medications not properly disposed of may be retrieved from your trash and abused or illegally sold. That can lead to accidental poisoning, overdoses and other medication abuse.
On Saturday, the nation recognizes DEA National Rx Take Back Day. Throughout the country, the Drug Enforcement Administration, in partnership with federal, state and local law enforcement, businesses, medical offices, first responders and more, will host events to allow people to safely dispose of unwanted medications. Safely disposing of unwanted or expired medications is also one way to make a difference in the opioid crisis.
Last March, LVMC was the first facility in Santa Barbara County to receive a “MED-Project” medication disposal kiosk. The bright blue bin is in place at the acute hospital, in the outpatient waiting room near the Cardiopulmonary and Laboratory departments.
The kiosk is the result of a Santa Barbara County “Safe Drug Disposal” ordinance that requires any producer of prescription and over-the-counter drugs offered for sale in Santa Barbara County to participate in an approved drug stewardship program for collection and disposal of unwanted medications.
Since the installation of the kiosk, LVMC has returned 17 40-gallon size boxes of medications to the Safe Drug Disposal coordinator.
Last fall, Americans turned in nearly 460 tons (more than 900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,800 sites operated by the
DEA and almost 4,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 16 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in almost 11 million pounds—nearly 5,500 tons—of pills.
“Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse,” according to the DEA. “Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows year after year that the majority of misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including someone else’s medication being stolen from the home medicine cabinet.”
Additionally, more effort is being made to advise people against disposing of unused medicines by flushing them down the toilet – creating a possible water pollution risk.
The LVMC secured kiosk is available for the disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications in any dosage form. Specific items are prohibited, however, including cosmetics, personal care products, herbal remedies, vitamins, compressed cylinders, aerosols, inhalers, medical devices, sharps (needles), illicit drugs, thermometers containing mercury and any medications containing iodine.
For a list of safe disposal sites in the Lompoc Valley, log onto www.med-project.org.