Did you know that, this year, National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day is April 16th? Studies show that many abused prescription drugs were found and taken from a family member or friend’s medicine cabinet. By disposing of unneeded and expired medications annually, we can help protect ourselves and others from addiction, as well as, accidental poisoning due to expired medications becoming toxic, an overdose, or even death. Let us take a look at six steps for cleaning out your medicine cabinet.
- Check the dates. Examine everything in your medicine cabinet, including ointments, supplements, and vitamins. Collect any item that is beyond its expiration date to throw out. Many medications lose their effectiveness after the expiration date, and some may even become toxic.
- For prescriptions, follow the one-year cut-off rule. Discard any prescriptions that are more than one year old.
- Discard any items that have changed color, smell, or taste. This includes items whose color has faded, because they may have been exposed to too much light.
- Discard unmarked containers. If something is no longer in its original container and cannot be identified, get rid of it. This includes ointments that could be easily mistaken for creams.
- Follow the proper rules for disposing of medication. If you must throw medication away, follow this procedure from the Environmental Protection Agency’s method for disposing of medicines properly. Mix the medication with an unappealing substance, like kitty litter or coffee grounds. Place the mixture into a sealed container. Throw the sealed container into the household trash. Scratch out personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the empty packaging away.
- Consider relocating your medicine cabinet. Many people do not know that the bathroom cabinet ismay not be the best place to store medications. The temperature and humidity changes that happen while the shower is running can lower the potency of your medications. Medications should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from children. Often, a dresser drawer in your bedroom is safer, and with more consistent temperature and humidity, for your medicines.
How you dispose of unwanted medications can be important. Flushed medications can flow into our water supply, negatively impacting the fish we eat and the water we drink. When discarded into the garbage, medications can leach into the soil and contaminate it. Instead, look for unused and expired medication receptacles at many pharmacies, or participate in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Drug Takeback Day on April 24, 2021.
Our organization and its members remain committed to educating our communities about issues that can impact elderly individuals and their loved ones. Whether it is providing legal services or connecting you with local resources, our members are happy to help. Contact one of our members today for more information.