As Americans consume more and more prescription drugs per year, proper disposal becomes even more vital. Improper disposal means that others, including children, may be able to get hold of drugs that could cause accidental poisoning. Prescription drugs also have the potential to leach into the water system within our community and across the country, threatening both humans and marine ecosystems. April 24th is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. So, how should Hancock County residents dispose of these medications properly?
Can’t I just flush?
When disposing of your prescription medications, you have two choices: to dispose of them properly at home or take them to a drop-off location. You should only use the at-home method if there are no drop-off locations near you or there is an immediate need for disposal (someone is at risk). Some medications, according to the FDA, must be flushed down the toilet. These meds should have this requirement printed clearly on their label to remove any guesswork. Most of these types contain opioids and include heavy-hitting pain medications containing fentanyl and oxycodone and the like. Although okay in an emergency situation, this method is not healthy for the environment, as these drugs pollute waterways.
Another at-home disposal method, also listed on the FDA’s website, includes taking pills out of their container, mixing them with an unwanted substance — cat litter, wet coffee grounds, etc. — in a sealable container and throwing them in the trash. Scratch or ink out any information printed on the bottle before recycling it. Again, this is not an ideal way to dispose of medications and should only be used if a take-back option is not available.
That brings us to the second type of disposal method: prescription take-backs. This method is based on the creation of multiple drug take-back locations within communities. Many times, these include drug stores and police stations. Within Hancock County, there are six permanent drop boxes located at police departments in Greenfield, Shirley, Cumberland, New Palestine and McCordsville as well as the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. You can find an entire list within your zip code on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website. These permanent boxes don’t allow liquids or sharps, but the Hancock Health Department offers a program for sharps disposal.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day happens annually — this year on April 24 — and aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible method for disposing of medications. Hancock County will host their take-back day on May 15, 9 a.m.-noon, with a temporary site at Medicap Pharmacy, 1588 N. State St. in Greenfield. Simply take any prescription or OTC medications (in their proper containers with the mediation name clearly visible) to be disposed of properly. Disposal includes incineration of containers as well as all medications. Not only does this keep everyone safe, but it also helps our environment and waterways remain free of toxic pollution.
If you have old bottles lying around of extra meds or sharps, make sure you dispose of them properly at a permanent take-back location or by participating in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day event in Hancock County. As Americans rely more and more on pharmaceuticals for a growing number of health problems, it’s vital we dispose of them in a responsible manner.