How to Properly Dispose of Medications

How to Properly Dispose of Medications

The 14th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, October 28, 2017. According to U.S. Department of Justice, the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications.

Renee Manworren, PhD, APN, shares tips on why and how medications should be disposed:

Why should medications be dispose of properly?

Once medications are no longer needed they should be destroyed. Teens report that the most commonly used and addictive medications are easily found in the homes of friends and family members. Left over medications are also the most common source for accidental drug poisoning in children under 6 years of age.

We continue to advise parents to secure all currently needed medications in locked storage containers, out of sight and out of reach of children of all ages.

How can I dispose of medications?

There are a few ways to properly dispose of no longer needed or expired medications. Thanks to drugstores like Walgreens, there are new drug take back programs across the U.S. Many Walgreens across Illinois have set up deposit boxes for unused of expired medications. If your local pharmacy does not have a drug take back program, you can check with your local police department as some will often accept unused and expired medications. If you are unable to find a proper drop-off location, you can dispose of medications at home in your trash. The medicine should be mixed in a substance like cat litter or coffee grounds, place the mixture in a container (i.e. plastic bag), remove personal information on medication label and discard in household trash. Certain medications can be disposed by flushing them down the toilet. For more information on those medications, visit the FDA’s website.

What should you do if your child accidentally ingests medication?

If your child manages to swallow any quantity of unnecessary medicine, take immediate action and get him/her to the nearest emergency room (ER). If possible, bring the container or package of the ingested medication with you to the ER so medical professionals can access the dosage and quantity that was ingested and treat the child accordingly.


ChildKind International

Lurie Children’s is the seventh hospital in the world and first hospital in Chicago to be accredited as a ChildKind International organization. ChildKind International recognizes healthcare facilities that have developed standardized, institution-wide, collaborative approaches to the treatment of children’s pain.

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