Effective Drug Disposal Techniques To Prevent Drug Abuse At Home


The world has seen an increase in the number of drug-related deaths in recent months. Most of the drug users have opted to buy their substances of choice from clubs, parties and music festivals because they want to achieve that certain kind of high that they could not normally get. Their reasons may vary but the result is the same: drug addiction that may lead to death.

Some of these commonly abused drugs are medically prescribed to treat chronic pain. However, the effect of masking out the pain is the release of dopamine, the “happy center” of the brain. Taking more than the necessary amount may lead to hallucinations, psychological disturbance, and other unfavorable symptoms.

Some individuals may have access to these drugs from patients who don’t use these substances anymore. However, not being able to properly dispose these drugs may lead to these substances falling into the wrong hands and getting hooked on it.

There is a need for people to be aware that after they have been treated from their health issues, leftover medicines should not be kept inside the house, most especially within reach of young children. Proper disposal prevents accidental exposure and intentional misuse of these drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Agency has carefully classified controlled substances into Schedules I to IV. Every drug that falls under these categories has very strict implementation of the regulation of these drugs. In the same way, the agency has also amended the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 (“Disposal Act”) to ensure that all unused drugs should be discarded safely.

What is the Disposal Act?

The Disposal Act amended the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to give the DEA authority to promulgate new regulations, within the framework of the CSA that will allow ultimate users to deliver unused or leftover controlled substances to appropriate entities for disposal in a safe and effective manner consistent with effective controls against diversion. The main goal of the Disposal Act is to encourage the community to develop a variety of methods of collection and disposal in a secure, convenient, and responsible manner.

Most Commonly Abused Drugs at Home

Some people turn to prescription drugs for several reasons, some of which include the following:

  • To relax and be free from tension
  • To reduce appetite
  • To achieve an unusual high
  • To respond to peer pressure
  • To escape from personal problems

Worse, some individuals think that using prescription drugs is legal and safe, because these are prescribed by physicians.

Several cases involving individuals rushed to the emergency department were related to misuse of prescription drugs intended for their family members. Some of these drugs include:

  • Pain relievers (Oxycontin)
  • Tranquilizers (Valium, Zolpidem)
  • Stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin)
  • Phenobarbital
  • Codeine Syrup/Promethazine

All of these drugs may produce untoward effects if ingested in large amounts and may eventually lead to death.

Options on How to Dispose Unused Medicines

Any unused or expired medicines should be immediately taken out from homes to prevent possible misuse and ingestion of children and other individuals. Some may become too curious about the effects of certain drugs most especially if these are drugs that are being mentioned online and in news articles. In short, curiosity may result to potential drug addiction.

Take Back Initiative

To address the issue on exposure to leftover medication, the government has created a Take Back program to safely dispose most types of unneeded or unused medicines. Collection sites are put up by the DEA periodically so that communities may be able to safely dispose their unused prescription drugs.

These take back programs can also be hosted by the local law enforcement agencies in different communities. At the same time, the people in the community may be able to contact their local waste management authorities to learn more about the proper disposal options and guidelines for their areas.

Drug Collection Stations

Another option is to dispose these unused medicines via DEA-authorized collectors that can safely and securely collect these medicines containing controlled substances. DEA-authorized collectors include hospitals, clinics or retail pharmacies. Some authorized collection sites offer mail-back programs wherein they provide drop boxes to help consumers in safely disposing their unused medicines.

For Communities with no Take Back Program

Not all communities may have the Take Back program or DEA-authorized collection stations, but that does not mean that unused medicines should be kept.

Throw them in the trash

The other option of disposing these medicines is by throwing them in the trash. Disposing them should not be done just by throwing them away in their containers. A more effective disposal method is for the capsules or tablets to be mixed with undesirable substances to prevent ingestion. This way, people will be instantly discouraged to take the drugs. The mixture should be placed inside a sealed plastic container. Ensure that all personal information on the prescription label on the empty medicine bottle has been taken out when disposing it.

Flush them in the toilet

Any unused medicines should be properly disposed to prevent from being misused by other individuals. If disposal options such as a take back program or a DEA-authorized collector sites are not readily available, it is best recommended that these medicines be flushed down the sink or toilet as soon as they are no longer needed.

Here is the list of medicines recommended for immediate disposal by flushing:

Medicines Form Active ingredient
Abstral sublingual tablet Fentanyl
Actiq oral transmucosal lozenge Fentanyl Citrate
Avinza extended release capsule Morphine Sulfate
Belbuca buccal soluble film Buprenorphine Hydrochloride
Buprenorphine Hydrochloride sublingual tablet Buprenorphine Hydrochloride
Butrans transdermal patch system Buprenorphine
Daytrana transdermal patch system Methylphenidate
Demerol tablets Hydrpmorphone Hydrochloride
Diladulid oral liquid Hydrpmorphone Hydrochloride
Dolophine Hydrochloride tablets Methadone Hydrochloride
Duragesic extended release patch Fentanyl
Embeda extended release capsule Morphine Sulfate
Exalgo extended release tablets Hydrpmorphone Hydrochloride
Fentora buccal tablets Fentanyl Citrate
Hysingla ER extended release tablets Hydrocodone Bitartrate
Kadian extended release capsule Morphine Sulfate
Methadone Hydrochloride oral solution Methadone Hydrochloride
Methadose tablets Methadone Hydrochloride
Morphabond extended release tablets Morphine Sulfate
Morphine Sulfate tablets Morphine Sulfate
MS Contin extended release tablets Morphine Sulfate
Nucynta ER extended release tablets Tapentadol
Onsolis buccal soluble film Fentanyl Citrate
Opana ER extended release tablets Oxymorhone Hydrochloride
Oxecta immediate release tablets Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Oxycodone Hydrochloride capsules Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Oxycodone Hydrochloride oral solution Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Oxycontin extended release tablets Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Percocet tablets Acetaminophen, Oxycodone Hydrocloride
Percodan tablets Aspirin, Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Suboxone sublingual film Buprenorphone Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride
Targiniq extended release tablets Oxycodone Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride
Xartemis XR tablets Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Xtampza ER extended release capsule Oxycodone
Xyrem oral solution Sodium Oxybate
Zohydro ER extended release capsule Hydrocodone Bitartrate
Zubsolv sublingual tablets Buprenorphine Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride

*Updated as of April 2016

There is a need for immediate disposal of these medicines to ensure that no one will be able to use them or accidentally ingest them due to their health risks.

In addition, It is unwise to turn over any unused medicine to another person whom you think is having the same kind of medical condition as you had. It is best to seek professional help rather than to give out any of your unused medicines.

Prior to receiving any kind of medication such as the ones mentioned above, patients should be advised on how to properly dispose unused medications in the event that they have purchased more than they have needed in the process. The doctors should be able to explain information about the expected side effects of the medication, proper handling and disposal instructions and the medication guide.

The FDA together with other federal agencies and medicine manufacturers are committed to finding other options in developing alternative safety disposal policies.

How Dangerous Are Prescription Drugs If Not Disposed Properly?

Prescription drugs such as very potent narcotic drugs and several other controlled substances have instructions for flushing to reduce the danger of unintentional use or misuse.

Fentanyl patch, for instance, is a kind of medication in patch form that delivers the potent medication through the skin. It is advised to flush used or leftover patches because it can cause severe breathing problems and lead to death if accidentally ingested by babies, children, pets and even adults.

Even if a patch has been discarded after use, there are still some traces of the drug left in the patch. That is why it is advised to flush it down the sink or toilet instead of just throwing it in trash bins.

Environmental Concerns in Drug Disposal

Some people are questioning the way of disposing unused medications since they worry that trace levels of drug residue may be flushed down into rivers and lakes and affect the drinking water supply of the community.

Environmental experts have opposed this alternative way of unused medicine disposal, saying that instead of protecting the community from these harmful substances, the flushed drug substances may find their way to the water supply and endanger the health of the whole community.

However, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are continuously monitoring this method of medicine disposal and found no indication of environmental effects due to flushing so far. In other words, flushing unused potent substances poses no harm to the community since the effect of these drugs can only be achieved when the drug itself has been ingested and fully metabolized by the body.

The FDA has been conscientious in reviewing each kind of drug substance that is safe to be disposed by flushing down in the sink of toilets. Their primary aim is to keep the community free from harmful substances and provide a healthy community to live in. It is highly recommended to read the DFA document on Disposal of Unused Medicines to know more about the agency’s suggested disposal methods.

Proper Disposal of Inhaler Products

Inhaler products are prescribed to those who have asthma or other respiratory problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These inhalers used to have CFCs, which were found to be harmful to the environment as they may cause destruction of the ozone layer. These days, however, the harmful chemical in inhalers have been replaced by more environmentally friendly substances.

When these inhalers have been consumed, they should also be properly disposed. Since these are aerosol-type products, puncturing the inhaler or setting it directly on fire might be dangerous. Make sure to read the instructions on the label carefully prior to disposing it.

Conclusion

Medicines are intended to help treat medical conditions. However, if these substances are used beyond what is recommended or used by individuals who should not be taking that kind of medicine, it will definitely cause harm.

Drug addiction is a huge problem that continues to plague so many countries. Let us help by initiating campaigns to join the government’s program of properly disposing potent drugs to keep our communities healthy and safe.

Pass it on. Help a friend or a loved one.

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