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How to Dispose of Your Old Medications

When we receive a prescription from a doctor, it is customary for us to continue taking the pills until they are gone, even if we start to feel better a few days in. However, many people do not follow that advice and they end up with half-finished bottles of pills. These then sit in their medicine cabinets sometimes for years on end. Some like to hold onto these pills so they can just use them the next time they get sick. However, medications do not last forever. Some of them lose their potency, and thus their use, over time. Some others become toxic and should not be used at all past a certain point.

OK, have we now convinced you that you should take all of your pills? That means it is now time to get rid of the old ones. However, do not flush them down the toilet or throw them in the garbage. Old drugs must be disposed of in a certain fashion for safety reasons.

Drugs flushed down the loo end up in rivers, with that water then sent to treatment plants. While the water coming into your house has been treated for your safety, these processes do not catch and remove pharmaceutical drugs. Thus, the medications you are flushing away will end up in someone’s water. Or fish and other animals that live in or near water. Even though diluted, they can still have a negative effect.

You are probably thinking, well, I’ll just throw them in the garbage then. Wrong — pills and capsules melt when exposed to moisture and that can end up as runoff that goes into rivers and you have the same problem again.

Fortunately, the answer is quite easy. Get all of your outdated and unused medications and bring them to your local pharmacy. They will dispose of them in a proper and safe manner at no cost to you.

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