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Discarding unwanted meds made easy

November 7, 2010
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center

You may keep all medications in the medicine chest in the bathroom. Or perhaps you keep them on a high shelf in a kitchen cupboard where Mom can keep an eye on who is accessing those medications. Wherever you store prescription and over-the-counter drugs, if you are like many of us, you have accumulated medications that have expired or medications that you no longer need and would like to discard for you, family members and pets. There's an opportunity coming up next weekend that you need to know about. And you might want to pass along the advisory to friends and family so they can clean out their medicine chest, cupboard shelf, or other repository for meds in their homes.

Although most prescriptions are to be taken until they are gone, we don't always do so. The bottles are put in a safe (or not) place where they accumulate over a period of time, often exceeding their expiration dates, or when we've forgotten about them, someone else may have discovered them. Prescription drug abuse is rising because the drugs are so easy to obtain.

To raise public awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse across the U.S., Nov. 13 has been designated American Medicine Chest Challenge. You can clean out your medicine chest and properly dispose of unwanted drugs at home or by taking outdated or unneeded prescription drugs for humans and pets to a disposal site. In Columbiana County, the disposal sites are Salem Medical Center, 2094 E. State St., Salem, and East Liverpool City Hospital's main entrance, 425 W. Fifth St., East Liverpool, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

You will not have to get out of your car. You do not have to provide identification. You can leave the medications in the original bottles, but remove all identification from it. IV solutions, injectables and syringes will not be accepted. Local DEA officers will collect the discarded items.

Inventory your medicine chest. Check the expiration dates of both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Make sure the medications you keep on hand are securely stored. Always take your medications exactly as they are prescribed by your physician. And talk to your children about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. It's never a good idea to take someone else's prescription medications.

You can discard your prescription and over-the-counter drugs at home. Do NOT flush them away or pour them down the drain.

Pour all medications you are discarding into a sealable plastic bag, both liquids and solids. Add just enough water to dissolve the medicines. Add kitty litter, coffee grounds or sawdust to the bag to make it undesirable for children or pets. Seal the bag and put it in the trash. Before you throw away prescription bottles remove all labels and personal information from them.

This event is a joint effort of the Columbiana County Drug Task Force, Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, Family Recovery, East Liverpool City and Salem Community hospitals. It is part of a nationwide project to remove dangerous controlled substances from the home medicine chest.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with its education, prevention and treatment programs. For more information about FRC and its programs, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email,



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