Drug-Take-Back-InfographicRaise your hand if you have a cupboard full of partially used medications, expired acetaminophen, and old anti-histamines. We do! Conveniently, there is a way to safely get rid of the unused medications in your life. Don’t leave them around the house and don’t put them back into the water supply (via flushing them or putting them improperly in the garbage)….both carry risk.

April 26 is the DEA’s National Drug Take Back Day. Conveniently, this is the perfect time to quickly clear out some of that clutter. As we ready our lives and our homes for summer (yes, please!) it’s a perfect time to clean out the medicine cabinet. No question getting rid of medications isn’t as straight forward as we’d like (ie it’s not like getting rid of an old banana peel).  And we really don’t want Cousin Judy’s anti-depressive  in our drinking water nor do we want any antibiotics in our soil. And who really wants a guest rummaging through your medicine cabinet at next year’s holiday party looking for drugs!

When we buy over-the-counter (OTC) medications at the pharmacy using them safely for our family demands 3 skills:

  • Reading and following the labels, dosing them properly for our kids.
  • Figuring out what is actually in the bottles of meds! Knowing the active ingredients in OTC medicines really matters.
  • Safely disposing of expired or unwanted medicines when we’re done with them.

The FDA provides clear instructions on getting rid of your unwanted OTC meds:

  1. Mix unwanted over-the-counter meds with other substances like coffee grinds or kitty litter. The meds will bind up in the coffee and/or kitty litter and be less likely to disperse, leak, or get out of the garbage. In addition, kids, pets, and those in the garbage looking for meds will be less likely to get into them.
  2. Place them in a sealable bag (think Ziploc style) or an empty can before disposing of them.
  3. Throw your combination in the trash.

If you’re uncomfortable disposing of medications with the above instructions or have a large volume of OTC or any prescription meds to get rid of, this Saturday between 10am and 2pm April 26th there will be sites all over the US where you can just drop off unwanted meds in bottles or packets. Just click here and search for a drop-off site (by zip code) near you to find the National Take Back Collection Site. Show up between 10am and 2pm and they will take all of your unused OTC or prescription medications. Voila — you’ll be clutter free come Sunday morning!

This post was written in partnership with OTC Safety.org. In exchange for our ongoing partnership helping families understand how to use OTC (over-the-counter) meds safely they have made a contribution to Digital Health at Seattle Children’s for our work in innovation. I adore the OTC Safety tagline, “Treat yourself and your family with care all year long.” Follow @OTCSafety #OTCSafety for more info on health and wellness.