Health Matters: Disposing of Your Old Medications

Old prescriptions often fill medicine cabinets in our homes.

Many people hold on to their old medications so they don’t have to go see their doctor again if the problem comes back.

They also flush them down the toilet.

Both are actions an Essentia Health Pharmacist doesn’t want you to do.

“With our opioid crisis going on, kind of throughout the area, I think it’s a really important fact that we need to get those medications out of your home and disposed of properly,” says Eric Christianson, an Essentia Health Clinical Pharmacist.

Christianson says keeping any medication past the time you need them can open doors to addiction.

Whether it’s you or someone else that gets their hands on it.

“Four out of five heroin addicts get their start from prescription pain medication, so that’s a really big number and really important,” Christianson says.

From pain killers to blood pressure medicine, Christianson says disposing of meds properly should be prioritized because there are environmental factors to consider as well.

“There’s a risk of theft on one side, and then the other risk of throwing your medication out with our milk or flushing it down the toilet which has historically been done,” Christianson says.

He says to ask your physician about where to properly dispose your medication locally.

There are locations that will take them of your hands.

“There are several pharmacies already that may have this yellow jug and other services. So check with your local pharmacy as far as proper disposal. Also many sheriff’s departments and police departments will take back these medications.” Christianson says.

It’s also a good idea to discuss when to stop using what you’re prescribed.

“Is this medication meant to be long term or is this medication meant to be short term? It’s always a good discussion point with your physician,” Christianson recommends.

Essentia Health Services in North Dakota has yellow jugs to dispose old medications.

Minnesota will soon have locations set up.