When taken correctly, prescription and over- the-counter medicines can relieve symptoms, fight specific infections, and provide better quality of life and functioning with common chronic illnesses. But what happens to your leftover prescription medications from that previous illness? Do you hang on to them, just in case the symptoms come back around or do you discard them?
Unless you are a doctor or pharmacist, you should never try to treat yourself or anyone else with a prescription medicine. Although symptoms may be similar to a previous illness, it may not be the right medicine needed this time. One should also check the expiration date on the bottle, because medicines may no longer work the way they are supposed to if expired.
After determining these medicines need to be discarded, proper disposal is very important and there are multiple ways to do this:
1. Take advantage of community pharmaceutical take-back programs or community drop boxes. The Jackson County Sheriff’s office has a secure pharmaceutical drop box, where residents can drop off their prescription medications to ensure they are disposed of properly. It is located inside one set of glass doors, at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office at 601 S. Main Street, in Altus. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 26, 2014, but the drop box is permanent so prescriptions can be taken at any time.
2. Take the unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers, mix them with an undesirable substance, like kitty litter or coffee grounds, place them in impermeable non-descript containers and throw them in the trash to ensure the drugs are not diverted.
3. Before throwing out the original medicine container, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.
So you may be thinking, why go through the hassle of proper disposal? Why not just throw the bottle in the trash, or keep it in your open cabinet? There are multiple reasons that proper disposal is important. Prescription drug abuse is on the rise. When these medications are misused or taken without a prescription, the consequences can be devastating and even deadly. Medications need to be disposed of when unused, because a child, teenager, or even a stranger could get access and potentially abuse them. Proper disposal and reducing the danger of unintentional use or overdose and illegal abuse should be a high priority.
The Jackson County Community Health Action Team (JCCHAT) has a subcommittee called the Substance Abuse Awareness Committee. They are working on prescription drug awareness and education for the Jackson County residents. If you would like to learn more about this committee, or prescription drug disposal practices contact Brooke McCuiston at (580) 355-5246 ext. 104.