NOTE: Due to COVID-19, the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is cancelled. 

 

Every April and October, Polk United and Burnett County Prevention Coalition team up with the Sheriff’s Department to collect highly addictive medications. This event is designated as a day for residents to safely dispose of extra or unused prescription medicines you may have in your home to prevent those drugs from being taken by youth or adults who visit or live with you.

 

What can you do instead to prevent access to these dangerous drugs? 

One: Lock it up! Lock boxes are an important tool to make it more difficult for visitors and loved ones to access your medications. Do not leave medications in your kitchen cabinet or counter, on the dining table, in the bathroom medicine cabinet, or on your nightstand.

 

Two: Dispose of unused medications immediately. How can you dispose of medications when many Prescription Drop Boxes are no longer accessible to the general public, and Take-Back day is cancelled? 

 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearly advises that residents should flush specific additive medications when take-back disposal methods are not available. This advice is in strong contrast to the more popular mantra “do not flush” touted by many health departments with concerns about environmental impact from water contamination. The FDA website states, “the FDA believes that the known risk of harm to humans from accidental, and sometimes fatal, exposure to medicines on the flush list far outweighs any potential risk to human health and the environment from flushing these leftover or unneeded medicines only when a take-back option is not readily available.”

 

Before you flush, search online for the FDA Flush List referenced in the FDA article “Where and How to Dispose of Unused Medicines.” The flush list contains common medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, diazepam, demerol, and fentanyl. If your medication is on the “non-flush list,” mix liquids or pills in a sealed container with used kitty litter or coffee grounds and place it in your trash container for disposal.

 

If you are like me and hesitate to flush until seeing more research about the “negligible” environmental impact statement from the FDA, remember step one, lock up your medications. Once the pandemic subsides, ask your pharmacist where you can find the nearest prescription drop box, open year-round. Except during pandemics of course.

 

Submitted by: Stacy Hilde, We Support Recovery

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