Keeping medications that are no longer needed or those that are expired around the house can create problems for people of all ages. In households where older adults live, it can lead to the wrong medication being taken accidentally or to grandchildren finding one and ingesting it.

Experts estimate that 71,000 kids under the age of 18 are taken to the emergency room because of unintentional overdoses caused by a prescription or over-the-counter-medication.

What can you and your Michigan senior loved one do to safely dispose of medications that are no longer needed?

There are a few resources that can help you figure it out.

Guidelines for Disposing of Old Medications

Here are the guidelines recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ):

  1. Take Back Programs: Take advantage of prescription take back days in your local community. Pharmacies typically offer them a few times a year. You can check to see if one is coming up near you by visiting the Department of Justice Office of Diversion Control
  2. Ask the Pharmacist: Check the instructions that come with each prescription medication to see if it indicates how it should be disposed of. If you didn’t save the safety insert, call the pharmacy where it was filled. (The phone number should be on the label.) The pharmacist can provide you with that information.
  3. FDA Database: The FDA maintains a list of medications that can safely be flushed down the sink or toilet. For these medications, it is considered the best way to keep small children and pets safe. Do not flush medications down the sink or toilet unless the instructions for disposal specifically indicate you should do so.
  4. Coffee Grounds and Kitty Litter: If the medication you want to dispose of didn’t come with any instructions, experts say to take the medicine out of the container and mixed it with coffee grounds or kitty litter. Don’t smash or crush the pills just mix them with either of the two products. Seal the entire mixture in a leak-proof bag and place it in the trash.
  5. Avoid Identity Theft: Make sure you remove or scratch out any identifying information on pill containers before disposing of them. This is an important step for reducing the risk of identity theft.

We hope these tips help you create a home environment that is safe for all generations!