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Your medicine cabinet can be one of the most dangerous places in your home. Powerful prescription medications can be misused, abused, or lead to accidental poisoning. Even your OTC medicines for treating colds and coughs can pose a danger to curious teens.

There’s no better time to do a little “spring cleaning” of your medicine cabinet than now.

The end of April brings with it DEA National Drug Take-Back Day – a day to safely dispose of unwanted and expired medications.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Addressing the crucial public safety and public health risks associated with holding onto unneeded medications or disposing of them improperly, Take-Back Day helps make it easy to safely get rid of drugs you no longer want or need.

The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 6 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

On Saturday, April 27th, 2019 Take-Back Day offers locations throughout the country where you can dispose of unused and expired medications in a safe, responsible, and convenient way.

From 10am to 2pm, drop off old, unneeded medication at a location near and do your part to help prevent accidental poisoning and intentional abuse.

The October 2018 National Take Back event alone included 5,839 collection sites which collected over 900K pounds of prescription medication that otherwise may have ended up in the wrong hands.

Here’s how you can make medication safety a priority in your home this month, leading up to Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 27, 2019.

Leading up to Drug Take-Back Day, set aside some time this month for the following:

  • Focus on the medication safety of yourself and loved ones 
  • Spread the word about Drug Take-Back Day 
  • Dispose of old, unwanted medications 
  • Safely store medications that you need to keep.

Start the Conversation

Open communication with your children, the adults in their lives, and elderly loved ones about medication safety can have an important and lasting impact for everyone.

Talk to Your Kids

Having open, honest conversations about the risk of prescription drug addiction, abuse, and overdose with children is monumentally important.

In fact, kids who learn about the risks associated with drug use from their parents are up to 50% less likely to experiment with drugs in their teen years than those who don’t.

Don’t stop with prescription drug safety. Be sure your kids know the dangers of abusing cough syrup and other OTC medications, as well.

Talk to Adults in Your Kids’ Lives

If your children spend time at another adult’s house – another parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or friend – you’ll want to talk to them about the dangers of leaving medications within reach of curious hands.

Tell them about Take-Back Day and ask that they keep their medications safely stored and out of sight so that you’re children won’t be faced with temptation.

Talk to Elderly Family Members

Many people assume that the older adults in their family are managing medications properly but that’s not always the case.

Seniors take more medication than any other U.S. group, with an increased risk of drug mix-ups, interactions, and harmful side effects.

Check in with older family members and make sure that their medications are being properly managed. Help them go through their medications and prepare for Take-Back Day, making sure that they’re clear on dosage as well as side effects and interactions issues they might expect from the medications they take. Then help protect them from the risk of prescription theft by making sure their medication is stored properly.

Get the Word Out

Spread the word about Drug Take Back Day and the importance of proper medication disposal.

Head to the DEA National Prescription Take Back Day Partnership Toolbox for promotional items like posters, pamphlets, and other printable materials that you can display in the workplace or public spaces you frequent.

You can also find social media graphics to add to your profiles or share out to your followers.

The more people who know the benefits of properly disposing of unneeded or expired medications, the less risk of dangerous medications ending up in the wrong hands.

Prepare Medication for Disposal

While tackling a project like cleaning out the medicine cabinet can seem daunting, it can be easily broken down into four steps:

1.Gather all your medications in one place. Separate medicine that you still need from expired, unwanted, or unneeded medications.

2. Maintain your privacy by removing all labels with identifying information from bottles.

3. Locate the Drug Take-Back event in your community. Immediately drop off meds or secure them in a locked medicine box until you can.

Tip: If you can’t make it out on Drug Take-Back Day, there are other ways to safely dispose of unwanted medications

4. Lock up medications that you are still using, then store them out of reach and out of sight.

Take your cue from Drug Take-Back Day and use April as a time for assuring that your family is using medication safely, for spreading the word about proper medication disposal, and for safely getting rid of drugs that you no longer want or need.