Your Health Matters

March topic: Dispose of Medications Safely
Why is it important to dispose of medications safely?
  • Medications, if not disposed of safely, can cause many problems.
  • Drug take back events prevent some of the problems. They protect our water supply and our environment and help keep prescription medications out of the wrong hands. These events prevent children or pets from getting into them and becoming ill; prevent water contamination and/or prescription drug abuse through theft and/or diversion
  • Most people obtain prescription drugs to abuse from family and friends
  • 50 Coloradans died each month in 2013 from unintentional drug poisonings (and 35 of these 50 were from prescribed medications). 
  • Many teens feel that prescription drugs are “safer to use” than street drugs since they are prescribed by a physician. Teens state that they are “easier to get than beer”, because prescription medications are easily obtained from friends and family medicine cabinets.
  • Commonly diverted drugs include prescription pain-killers, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, and drugs used for ADHD 
  • Easy access and stockpiling of medications has led to an increase in the number of people in Colorado abusing and becoming addicted to prescription drugs. 1 in 6 of Colorado’s high school seniors have taken a prescription medication without a doctor’s prescription at least once in their lifetime.  This is higher than the national average.

Drug Take Back Events: 
Upcoming drug take back, Hosted by the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy, the University of Colorado Denver Police Department and the University of Colorado Hospital, the drug take back will collect unused and expired medications on Saturday, April 18 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Anschutz Medical Campus (I-225 and Colfax in Aurora). 

Why are these community take backs important? They are a convenient and easy way to eliminate these drugs from homes.  Especially pain meds and other controlled substances.  Other take back programs do not allow people to turn in controlled substances, so this event is especially important.

Is this the same thing that the DEA does? The Drug Enforcement Administration is no longer hosting community drug take back events. This is a similar event and one that the school has hosted for six years. 

Where is it? There are several locations around the metro area that host community drug take back events, visit for a location near you. Our School has participated for several years and hosts the event at the old Fitzsimons Army Hospital at the new Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora at  I-225 and Colfax. All you do is exit I-225 at Colfax and follow the electronic signs. We have a convenient drive up and drop off location. Once you’ve dropped off your meds you can chat with one of our pharmacists about your medications and pick up one of the School’s med tracking cards as well.

When? April 18 from 10 a.m. – 2p.m. 

What can be dropped off? Bring any unused or expired medications including liquids, pills, capsules, medicated ointments, lotions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and pet medications to the collection area

What happens to the meds once dropped off? Once collected, the police box them up and then transport to a certified site for disposal.

If  you are not ready to dispose of your meds, how should store them safely? Don’t store in a medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Most medicine should be stored at room temperature, away from sunlight and moisture which can speed up the breakdown of the pills.Medicines also need to be secured and  placed out of a child's reach -- perhaps in an upper cabinet or a  linen closet. If the bathroom is your only option, keep the containers tightly closed. If you store medicines in a kitchen, keep them away from any hot appliances. 

Medicine that is improperly stored usually becomes less effective and sometimes can become toxic. Follow these tips to prevent danger:

  • Store drugs out of children's reach.
  • Keep medicines in their original container and tightly closed.
  • Cotton can draw moisture into the container, so remove the cotton plug immediately when you receive a new prescription.
  • When you take a drug, check the expiration and replace any medications that are expired. 
  • Never use a medication that has changed color, texture, or odor, even if it has not expired. 
  • Throw away capsules or tablets that look questionable -- stick together, are harder or softer than normal, or are cracked or chipped.
  • Ask your pharmacist about more specific storage instructions. 

Other options for disposal:
There are some permanent drop boxes located throughout the state. For a location nearest you visit


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