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With the opioid crisis affecting millions of Americans, addiction has quickly become an issue that has highly dangerous outcomes. One preventative step that family members can take is to make sure there are no unused or leftover prescription medications in your home. A report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cites that of the more than six million citizens who abuse prescription drugs, 70 percent obtain them from relatives or friends. Disposing of unused medications is a strategy that is easy and can have a huge impact.

There are several community take-back programs designed to safely dispose of unused prescription or over-the-counter medications. One such program is Take Back Alabama sponsored by Walgreens, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, and the Medical Association of Alabama. Unused over-the-counter and prescription medications can be safely deposited year-round at various Walgreens throughout the state with no questions asked. Drop boxes are locked and confidentiality is ensured. For more information on drop off locations, visit http://smartandsafeal.org/takeback/.

Local municipalities and police departments also sponsor prescription drug take-back days with the goal of providing a safe, convenient, and responsible way of disposing of these medications. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will be held on April 27, 2019. Location collection sites will be confirmed at a later date. Visit https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/ for updates.

Many prescriptions have specific disposal instructions. It is important that you do not flush medications down the toilet unless the instructions advise you to do so. Flushing drugs can put others at significant risk and can be harmful to the environment. Trace levels of drug residues have been found in community drinking water supplies and in rivers and lakes.

If there are no take-back programs in your area and you must throw the drugs away, separate the bottle and the medication. Remove or scratch out any personal information on the container. Mix leftover medicines with unappealing trash such as kitty litter, used coffee grounds, dirt or other off-putting garbage, and seal in a plastic bag. This makes the drug unrecognizable to individuals who might go through the trash and can make it undesirable for children or pets who do not understand the dangers of unused medications.

Safely disposing of unused medications and prescription drugs can help keep your loved ones safe. For more information about overcoming addiction or helping someone cope with this illness, contact MedPlex today.

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