Why now is a good time to clean out old drugs from your medicine cabinet

Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

“The motto that we have is keep them safe, clean them out and take them back,” Marla Zometsky, of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, said.

“Most of the prescription drugs that are misused, actually come from family and friends. You could be a drug dealer without even knowing it.”

After smoking pot, the second most common form of drug abuse in America is non-medical use of prescription drugs. Hence, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Items not to bring to drop-off locations include illegal drugs, inhalers and liquids in large quantities. Welcomed items include prescription and non-prescription pills, electronic cigarettes and vaping products and their devices with batteries removed, and drugs for pets.

“Sometimes people will just throw their unused medications in the toilet, and we really don’t want you to do that because it contaminates the water supply,” Zometsky said. “It’s important to dispose of them safely and properly, so it helps everyone. It helps us maintain our safety in terms of drug misuse and abuse, and it helps our environment.”

Permanent lock boxes for old medications are in place regionwide at some police stations, hospitals and drug stores.

You can find lock box locations and participating Drug Take Back Day sites by zip code on the Drug Enforcement Administration website.

“It’s a great opportunity to clean out your medication cabinet, but also to do it in a safe way,” Zometsky said.

If you miss the day or can’t make it to a permanent lock box location, Zometsky’s advice:

  • Do not crush tablets or capsules.
  • Mix medications with items such as kitty litter, a soiled diaper or used coffee grounds.
  • Before putting the mix in the trash, seal it inside something such as a plastic bag.
  • Remove or scratch out all the personal information on the prescription label.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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