When are prescription drugs stale, and what to do with them?

While we all attempt to take medications as directed by our doctors, there
are times when leftover medications tend to pile up in the old medicine
cabinet or in the that bedside drawer. So, let’s take a peek and see if we
need to do some housecleaning shall we?

The number one rule is to take medications as directed by your doctor. Sometimes we find ourselves switching medications in the middle of 30 to 90 days and now we have leftover meds just sitting in the bottles. “I’ll keep those just in case” we think to ourselves. Then the next thing you know… there are several and even dozens of old medications stocked in storage. At times, we can’t even remember what ailment they were supposed to cure, but we keep them just in case.

OK, let’s pick a day and review and clean out all the old miscellaneous pill bottles. We need to dispose of them in a safe manner.

Many pharmacies and government agencies have disposal or what they call “take back” programs and you can just look up online “medical prescription recycling locator” to find participating locations in your area. Your local DEA office can take those unwanted meds and incinerate them along with other illegal drugs confiscated in law enforcement activity. The government site for medical Rx disposal locations is https://apps.deadiversion.usdoj.gov  Just enter your zip code and state, and ta-da! Recycling locations in your area will appear on your computer screen!

You can also dispose of old medication safely by just crushing them into powder and mixing them with some old coffee grounds, kitty litter, sawdust, or anything that will make them unappealing to other people or pets. Then place the sealed bag in your garbage. Most types of pill containers can be recycled and just need to be placed in the recycle bin to be picked up. Be sure to remove any identifying information such as your name, phone, or address before tossing away the old bottle or plastic capsule container.

While unused medical equipment still in original packaging can be recycled in many cases, prescription medications, in most cases cannot be recycled. The safest way is to incinerate the old pills and meds, so that these chemicals don’t wind up in landfills. Don’t flush them down the toilet either! It just adds the unwanted chemicals into our water treatment plants and makes it that much harder to filter the water into clean drinkable water.

When in doubt about expired meds, ask your local expert! Your pharmacist! Don’t play doctor by giving your medications to another person. You were prescribed those specific medications, based on a lot of factors and the person you give your medications to, might not be a good candidate. Not all prescription medications interact with all other prescription medications. We don’t want any accidental trips to the emergency room because of bad medicine or accidental overdose!

There’s nothing like the present! So get busy and do some spring cleaning in your medicine cabinet!