Cleaning out your medicine cabinetJust because your old prescription drugs tucked away in the corner of the bathroom cupboard aren’t showing noticeable signs of deterioration doesn’t mean their expiration dates should be ignored.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Just because your old prescription drugs tucked away in the corner of the bathroom cupboard aren’t showing noticeable signs of deterioration doesn’t mean their expiration dates should be ignored.
Pharmacists recommend going through those messy medicine cabinets on a regular basis so you don’t find yourself taking year-old aspirin the next time a headache comes on.
“We worry about the potency of the medication in there,” Target pharmacist Alex Hasek said. “Some medication — not all — can actually become harmful. But usually it’s just a potency issue.”
If people are taking what they think is the correct dosage, but the drug’s effectiveness has diminished with age, they won’t be properly treated. To help medications last as long as possible, follow storage directions listed on the bottles.
“Keeping things in a dry place when you’re storing them and keeping them out of direct sunlight can all help with preventing early expiration dates,” Hasek said.
Don’t just dump it
With the cabinet cleaned out, all that’s left is to get rid of the unused prescriptions. But don’t reach for the trash can just yet.
“What we’re finding is that a lot of drug dealers and drug users are going through people’s trashes in order to find the substances,” said Julie Hatch, chemical health specialist with the Chemical Health Initiative in Goodhue County.
And wait just one second before you start pouring pills down the drain.
“A lot of people are still in the mindset that they need to flush them down the toilet,” Hatch said, explaining how that has the potential to contaminate groundwater.
Instead, gather up the unused drugs and deliver them to area drop-off sites, where they’re kept out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
A variety of accepted medications — including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, narcotics, controlled substances, vitamins and more — can be dropped off in the following locations at no cost:
• Goodhue County Law Enforcement Center lobby, 430 W. Sixth St., Red Wing. Available 24 hours.
• Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office, 401 Main St., Wanamingo. Available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To get a more detailed list of medications that are and are not accepted at the drop-off sites, visit www.chi-goodhue.org.