by Cassidy Foster
Many times, people are prescribed medication and are unsure of what to do once the medication is no longer needed. A lot of people hang on to the medication with the thought, “I may need this later,” whether it is a painkiller, an antibiotic, or maybe even anti-anxiety medication.
Although people have good intentions, this is an easy way for medication to end up in the wrong hands. The most common place to keep medication is in a medicine cabinet or on the counter in the bathroom. But by having it easily accessible, medication can easily go missing. This is of concern because nearly 255,000 Coloradans residents over the age of twelve misuse prescription drugs each year, according to the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention.
To keep your medications from ending up in the wrong hands, Mesa County Public Health suggests the following:
- Place medication in a safe location or in a locked box.
- Count medication and keep track of how many pills are in the container and how many there should be.
- Make sure medication is taken to the full dosage (if needed).
- Dispose of medication properly at medication disposal boxes.
Mesa County has five locations where you can drop off any unused, unwanted, or expired medication any day of the week (during business hours) all year long. In addition, the FDA sponsors national take back days. The next one is April 27th at one of the five participating locations in Mesa County from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
If you are unable to make it to a drop box, the FDA recommends that you:
- Mix medicines with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, cat litter, coffee grounds, or sawdust;
- Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
- Throw the container in your household trash; and
- Delete all personal information on the prescription label of the empty pill bottles or medicine packaging, then dispose of the container.
For more information about what can and cannot be disposed of at a medication disposal box, check out the Colorado Take-Back Program Guide. If you are concerned about needles in the household, go to SafeNeedleDisposal.org and find the closest location to dispose of them.
You can do other things to prevent prescription misuse, as well:
- Talk to your doctor openly and honestly about any personal or family history of substance use.
- Ask about alternatives to potentially addictive medication, especially for pain.
- Never share your medication with friends or family members and don’t let anyone share their medication with you.
The safest way to maintain a prescription is to take it as prescribed and, if it is no longer needed, to properly dispose of it.
Cassidy Foster moved to Grand Junction 4 years ago with husband and welcomed a daughter in July 2018. She started her service with AmeriCorps Community Opioid Response Program in October of 2018 and has been making connections throughout the community to help combat the opioid crisis.