March 07, 2012 —

In 2010, five percent of teens reported abusing over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan to get high. These OTC medicines play an important role in treating symptoms, but they must be taken, stored and disposed with care. Expired, unwanted and unused medicines left in the home can be easily abused by teens looking for a quick and convenient high. While it is important to remember this throughout the year, the American Medical Association (AMA) is encouraging you to take the time during Patient Safety Awareness Week   to clean out your cabinet and dispose of medicines safely.  Follow the instructions below in order to prevent medicine abuse in your home:

It’s important to properly dispose of these medicines to avoid harm to wildlife, pets and people. To safely dispose of expired, unwanted or unused medicines, we encourage you to follow these tips:

  • The safest way to dispose of medicines is to take advantage of community drug take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal.
  • Follow the disposal instructions on the Drug Facts label or patient information that came with the medicine.
  • Do not flush any drugs down the toilet unless the information instructs you to do so.

For more tips, download the AMA’s Medication Safety Disposal Guide.