When you Should Never Recycle: Toss Your Old Meds

In the midst of a national opioid epidemic, it’s more important than ever to dispose of unused prescription drugs that could end up in the wrong hands. Keeping old medications in your home, or even disposing of them incorrectly could mean they end up doing real damage. 

According to the Utah Department of Health, for the last 10 years, Utah has been in the top 10 states for most overdose deaths with a 400% increase in prescription drug misuse.   

Between 2013-2015, Utah ranked 7th in the U.S. for drug poisoning deaths.  Overdoses have caused more deaths than firearms, and motor vehicle crashes. 

In Carbon, Emery, Duchesne, Juab, Weber, Salt Lake, and Tooele counties, rates of overdose deaths are the highest. 

Using a drug collection site is the best way to protect you and anyone who enters your home. By disposing of drugs correctly you can help prevent accidental poisoning, drug abuse, and even protect the environment.

42% of teenagers who have abused prescription drugs obtained from their parent’s medicine cabinet. 64% of teenagers that have abused prescription pain relievers say they took them from friends or relatives. The majority of abused prescription drugs are taken from people’s homes and not pharmacies or off the street. 

Disposing of pills in the trash still leaves them intact to be found and used.  Crushing pills before throwing them away could cause them to affect someone who unknowingly comes into contact with that trash, especially endangering curious children. 

Flushing or pouring old Medications down the drain can pollute our waters, impacting ecosystems, and contaminating our food and water supplies. Many medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems. Scientists have found harmful chemicals from medicines in surface, ground and marine waters as well as soil. 


What You Can Do:

  • Go through your medicine cabinet, looking for any prescription drugs, but especially prescription opioids (OxyContin, Hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and other pain relievers)
  • Go to http://www.utahtakeback.org/collection.php to find the the collection site nearest to you
  • Dispose of dangerous old medications and lock up any that are still being used 
  • Share your experience to your community on social media and urge your friends and family to do the same! 

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