April topic: Drug Disposal
Why is it important to dispose of medications safely?
- Medications, if not disposed of safely, can cause many problems.
- Community prescription drug take back events like the Drug Enforcement Administration National TakeBack Initiative 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.
- In 2011, nearly twice as many people in Colorado died from poisoning due to opioid pain medications than from drunk-driving related fatalities.
- Colorado has the second-worst rate of pain pill abuse in the U.S. according to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- 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. A 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted in Colorado revealed that almost 30% of 12th graders had taken a prescription medication without a doctor’s prescription at least once in their lifetime. This is higher than the national average.
Upcoming Drug Take Back:
As part of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Sixth National Take Back Initiative (NTBI), hosted in thousands of communities throughout the country, the University of Colorado Denver Police Department and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences will collect unused and expired medications on Saturday, April 27 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.
Who is involved? Drug Enforcement Administration, University of Colorado Denver Police Department, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado Hospital, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Where is it? There are several locations around the metro area that are part of the National Take Back Initiative, visit www.dea.gov 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 27 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 the DEA transports and incinerates the drugs. This is by far the safest method of destroying drugs.
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