Healthy Living

4 Tips for Cleaning Out Your Medicine Cabinet

Aug 31 2023

When sprucing up your house, what better place to start than your medicine cabinet?

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, and getting rid of extra medication is a great way to help prevent pill misuse and abuse. When medicine is properly disposed of, you are removing potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted medications from your home.

Here is an easy guide to drug disposal.

  1. The one-year rule. Discard any prescription medications that are older than one year or expired. Medications may lose their efficacy after their expiration dates, and some may even be toxic. Remember to remove your personal information, including the Rx number, from the container as well.
  2. Throw away unmarked containers. If something cannot be identified or is not in its original container, throw it away. This includes prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs as well as ointments, supplements and vitamins.
  3. The smell, color or taste rule. Your senses are your first line of defense against expired medication. If it smells, looks or tastes off, discard it.
  4. Relocate your medicine cabinet. All medications should be stored in a cool and dry environment away from children. The humidity and temperature changes that occur in a bathroom from showers may lower the medication’s efficacy.

“It’s always important to get rid of unwanted, unused or expired medication, as there are many risks that could come from keeping them in your medicine cabinet,” Sleiman Abukhater, MD, of Mercy Health – Sheffield Primary Care, shares. “If you have medication you’d like to toss, you can bring them to a medication take-back center in your community, or you can follow the FDA’s recommendations for safe disposal of medication.”

When it comes to getting rid of leftover medications, the following is suggested:

  1. Remove the medicine from its container and mix it with a substance that is undesirable. Used kitty litter and used coffee grounds are two good examples.
  2. Put the mixture in a sealable bag – one that will not break or leak in a garbage bag.
  3. Don’t flush any unwanted medicine down the toilet unless it is on the FDA’s flush list.
  4. Utilize drug take-back programs in your community.

The Healthy State Alliance partnership is a collaborative effort between Mercy Health and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, dedicated to addressing pressing health care issues in Ohio. With the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on communities, the alliance is committed to combating this crisis through research, education and patient care initiatives. By leveraging the expertise and resources of both institutions, the Healthy State Alliance aims to develop innovative strategies for prevention, treatment and recovery support.

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