photo via stoptherobbery.com
Recently, I found out I am allergic to penicillin. I've taken penicillin for over two decades, when prescribed, but my allergic reaction only manifested this week. So now I have what is a common conundrum: a bottle full of useless (to me) pills sitting in my medicine cabinet. I've been wondering what to do with them. TreeHugger's Jaymi Heimbuch wrote about this problem with her aunt's unused medication back in the spring. Due to regulations, pills often can't be returned, donated, or trashed, and instead end up polluting our waterways. Coincidentally, I just read an article informing me that the DEA is hosting a National Take-Back Day on September 25th. Take-Back Day is a program that works in a similar manner to the collection of electronic waste. You bring your old or unused pills to a venue in your county and the DEA disposes the drugs.
This Saturday at more than 3,000 sites across the U.S., the DEA will be collecting old or unused prescription and over-the counter pills for disposal. The DEA has said to bring in any pills and that they will dispose of them in safe, secure and anonymous environment. The DEA will later incinerate the medicine. (Do any readers know about the environmental impact of incinerating medication?)
In addition to polluting our waterways, DEA officials say that drug abuse is on the rise and even legitimate drugs found in friends or family member's medicine cabinets often find their way to the black market. 63% of kids who abuse prescription drugs admit they got them from relatives' or friends' medicine cabinets. This is worrisome, as prescription drugs are now responsible for more overdose deaths than all street drugs combined. Not only are prescription drugs often accessible through people you know, police tell stories of people touring residential open houses, rifling through the owner's medicine cabinets, and stealing prescription medicine.
So do not flush your pills down the toilet. That only leads to polluting our waterways. Also, do not throw your pills away in the trash. This leaves the pills uncontrolled where they may still end up polluting habitats. Instead, bring your unwanted pills to the location closest to you, this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. Collection sites in your local community can be found by going to www.dea.gov. Many of the locations are police or sheriff stations, but others are churches or universities. If this date or time doesn't work for you, check your local pharmacy as some have an unused medication disposal program.