Time To Clean Out The Medicine Cabinet


Did you finish up those pain pills your dentist gave you after you and your wisdom tooth parted company? If you took every single one, you’re in the minority.

New research finds over half of opioids prescribed to patients who have dental surgery are not used. It works out to about 1 million prescribed but unused opioid pills annually, according to the research.

During the study, the researchers worked with 79 patients who were prescribed painkillers following dental surgery to remove an impacted wisdom tooth. On average, after 3 weeks, these patients had only used 13 out of the 28 opioid pills prescribed, leaving a total of over 1,000 unused pills. Only five of the patients used all their prescribed opioids.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Is Oct 22 2016

Unused pain pills tend to end up in the hands of friends or family members who are struggling with opioid addictions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 52 million Americans over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime, and 6.1 million Americans did so in the last month.

According to studies by the DEA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.  Drug enforcement agencies refer to this as “accidental drug dealing.”

Or people hoard their pills for use on some achy day in the future. But by the time you get around to taking them, the pills are nearing the end of their shelf life or have expired.

If you have unused prescription medication of any kind, you can safely dispose of it on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is happening on October 22.

As with the previous Take-Back events, collection sites will be set up throughout communities nationwide. You simply visit the site and drop off your drugs. You can find the collection sites near you by visiting this web page, or by calling 1-800-882-9539.

It’s obvious that people are looking for a solution to their drug disposal problems when you look at the stats from last year’s event. Thousands of Americans in communities across the country discarded more than 350 tons of unused, expired, or unwanted drugs as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Initiative last year.  Overall, in its 11 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in more than 5.5 million pounds — more than 2,750 tons — of pills.

Note that NTBD collection sites accept prescription drugs and over-the-counter pills only. Liquid drugs, Illegal drugs, needles, sharps and syringes are not accepted. That said, when you bring in medication for disposal, there are no forms to fill out and no questions will be asked.

Can’t Make The Drug Take Back Event?

If you’re busy on Oct. 22 you don’t have to hang onto those drugs until the next NTBD event. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises consumers who want to clear out their medicine cabinets to follow disposal instructions on the drug label or information sheet that accompanies the medication.

Most drugs can be thrown in the household trash. But “consumers should take certain precautions before tossing them out,” according to the FDA. You should take drugs out of their original containers and “mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter” before tossing them in the trash. This way the medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and to people who may intentionally go through your trash looking for drugs.

The FDA also suggests that you scratch out all identifying information on a prescription label before discarding the bottle – including bringing it to a Take-Back site – to protect your privacy.

Some types of drugs – such as narcotic pain relievers and other controlled substances – should be flushed down the toilet rather than put into the trash. That’s because addicts may opt to consume drugs no matter what nasty substances you mix them with before trashing them. But do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless the label or patient information sheet specifically instructs you to do so.

But before you flush or toss drugs, consider the environment. Some experts state that the active ingredients in medicine are not be removed by wastewater treatment plants or sceptic systems, and may pollute water and harm aquatic life. Putting pharmaceuticals into landfills or solid waste systems may impact wildlife, people and the entire ecosystem. Take-Back programs are the most sustainable choice.

And if you are struggling to afford necessary prescriptions, :DentalPlans offers dental savings plans that provide significant discounts on prescription medications and other health and wellness products, along with dental savings.

You can also get a free prescription savings card from :DentalPlans right here.


Join. Save. Smile.