How to Dispose of Expired Medicines

I was challenged by the American Recall Center to participate in the Medicine Cabinet Clean Out Challenge. I gladly said yes!  With Spring cleaning on everyone's mind, don't forget to go through your medicine cabinets!

The challenge was not only to go through my medicine cabinets and tell you about my experience but to do it by working in 3 areas:

1. Knowing my medications
2. Securing my medications
3. Disposing medications properly.

Let me share with you my awful medicine cabinets! I had not gone through my cabinets in FOREVER! After completely emptying my medicine cabinet, I went through it all one by one. I had an entire bucket of expired medicines, both prescription and over the counter!

Know your medications
  1. Do you take your prescriptions as prescribed?  My husband has Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes. so he has multiple prescriptions. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering everything he is on. I keep a  list taped to the inside kitchen cabinet so if he could not communicate the list to people, I could grab it and go.
  2. Do you understand all possible side effects?  Taking time with your physician as well as pharmacist to ask questions and go over all the side effects of your medications should be a regular part of your health care routine!

Secure your medications

  1. Are your medicines stored in a secured location?   We are new empty nesters, as well as new grandparents. Although our grandbabies live across the country. It is easy for us to just leave out our daily medications and supplies out on the counter since it is only the 2 of us. But it is important to remember that when family or visitors, or anyone (such as handymen) come to your home, they should be stored in a secure location.
  2. How do you monitor the amount left in each medicine bottle?  My husband has signed up for automatic reminders from the pharmacy when it is time to refill his medications so that he does not have a lapse on those important medications that are life saving.
Dispose your medications
  1. Do you know how to safely dispose of any unused or expired medications?

My favorite place to go for information on proper disposal of medications is from the FDA. Here are a few of their highlights:
A .Do NOT dump medications of any kind down the sink or toilet, unless the product directions tell you to do so! Who wants trace amounts of everyone's medications in their water supply?
B.  Look for community take back programs. Some communities have regular programs that will allow you to take your old expired medications to have safely disposed of.
C.  If you need to dipose of medications yourself here is what to do.
       1. Empty the pills from the original bottles into a sealable bag or container.
       2. Pour an undesirable substance such as kitty litter or coffee grounds into the container.
       3. Seal Container, shake to distribute and "hide" medications into the Cat Litter.
       4. Throw into your household trash.
       5. Peel off labels from your empty prescription bottles.    Or
           Mark through the labels with a permanent marker(For privacy and identity theft protection)
       6. Throw out or recycle your empty medicine bottles. Here is where I like to send ours!

     2.  Have you checked to see if any medications are recalled?  Everyone should go to the American Recall Center and just check to make sure none of your prescriptions have been recalled! Here is where to go!  recallcenter.com
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