Rx Drug Take Back Days: 4 Misconceptions is written by guest student blogger, Samantha Treinish. She’s a third-year pharmacy student at Cedarville University. The next national drug take back day is Saturday, October 24th. Mark your calendar!
Over the past four years, I have volunteered at several drug take-back days in the central Ohio area. Each experience has taught me lessons. I have come up with four misconceptions patients have about drug take back days.
Misconception #1: Patients cannot bring liquids, creams, patches or injectables.
Most sites are able to take any type of medication. This includes tablets, capsules, liquids, creams, patches or injectables/syringes. Sites have the correct tools to dispose of all types of medications.
One family came to a drug take back day hoping to dispose of several boxes of Fentanyl patches. A loved one had them prescribed while she was in Hospice. The recent loss of that family member overwhelmed them. They were also worried about the medication being abused or accidentally used by a young child. Fortunately, we were able to help. We disposed of the medication in the correct and safe manner. This brought comfort to the grieving family.
Another family had a member who was injecting medications. They did not have a way to dispose of the syringes. The site where I volunteered purchased a large sharps container and people filled it by the end of the event! This family and several others were able to bring both used and unused syringes for safe disposal.
Misconception #2: There is no way to dispose of medications except for drug take back days.
There are several ways to dispose of medications throughout the year without attending drug take back days:
For example, one easy way to dispose of medications is to take them to your local police or fire station. Make sure to check with your local law enforcement to find the nearest drug disposal box. Check out the FDA’s list of permanent collection locations and periodic events. The FDA also created web pages to help those whose local police station does not have a drug disposal box.
To dispose of needles and sharps, patients can place these in a milk jug or laundry detergent container. When full, use duct tape to tape the lid shut. Contact the local waste management service for instructions on how to dispose.
To dispose of tablets, capsules or liquids, mix them with an unappealing substance, such as kitty litter, dirt or old coffee grounds. Place the mixture into a sealed bag and throw it into the trash.
To dispose of patches, the method of disposal depends on the type of patch:
For all patches, open and fold the patch against itself.
On medications such as Fentanyl – IF there is no drug take-back site readily available – flush the folded patches down the toilet. (more on this later)
For other medications, such as testosterone or nitroglycerin, the folded patches can be placed into the trash.
Misconception #3: You can only bring back prescription medications.
Many people do not know that volunteers can also accept over-the-counter medications. Therefore, you do not have to have medications in a prescription bottle. Instead, you can place all of your unused medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, into a sealed plastic bag. Then, bring this in for disposal.
Misconception #4: Don’t flush medications down the toilet.
If you’re like me, you learned this from an early age. This is because of the potential for dangerous or deadly consequences of some medications. However, the FDA has created a list of medications that CAN be flushed down the toilet. This is ONLY IF a drug disposal site is not available. The list of medications contains many opioids and other controlled medications. Therefore, even in small amounts, these can be harmful or even deadly to pets or children. This is NOT the ideal solution for disposing of these medications. Again, it should only be used if drug take back sites are not available.
Don’t be afraid to take your medications to the drug take back days in your area! These volunteers are there to help you. If they cannot take your medications, they are more than willing to help you correctly dispose of them. Medication misuse and abuse is a problem that we all can help limit:
Take your medication as prescribed.
Dispose of medication when you no longer need it
Educate yourselves on ways to help others.
To learn more about drug take back days, their purpose, impact, etc. see our previous blog, National Prescription Takeback Day.
Samantha Treinish is a third-year pharmacy student at Cedarville University. Upon graduation, Samantha is looking forward to helping patients better their health in a clinical or retail setting. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Samantha and best of luck to you!
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