Spring Clean Your Family’s Medicine Cabinet and Safely Dispose of Medicines

By Peggy Posted March 20, 2013 under Monitoring Your Medicines

For many, changing the clocks ahead one hour for daylight savings marks the unofficial beginning to spring. With the change in seasons many will prepare their home for warmer weather by opening windows, turning down the thermostat and doing some spring cleaning. One place in your home that might not have occurred to you to “clean out,” is your medicine cabinet. Parents should add the family medicine cabinet to their spring cleaning efforts so that your family safely disposes of unwanted, unused, or expired medicines, which can help prevent abuse. 

You may not know that the many teens who abuse medicines to get high are accessing these drugs from the medicine cabinets in their own home or from their friends’ homes. As a mother and a high school nurse, it’s my goal to keep students healthy and I want to encourage parents to safeguard their medicine cabinet and to dispose of unused or expired medicines to prevent their children or their children’s friends from abusing medicines. In addition, I would recommend maintaining an inventory of all of the over-the-counter medicines in your home, allowing you to notice when medicine goes missing – which is a warning sign of abuse.

To safely dispose of medicines, parents should contact their city or county government to see if there is a medicine take-back program in their community. If there is not, parents can follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s simple steps to safely dispose of medicines in their trash. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has also scheduled its next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day for Saturday, April 27, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with local collection sites across the country.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to be proactive in safeguarding our medicine cabinets, disposing of unused or expired medicines, and talking to our teens about medicine abuse to help prevent this issue in our homes, schools and community. I encourage parents to use “teachable moments” that come up at any time and provide an “in” for talking to their teens about medicine abuse. How often do you dispose of unwanted, unused, or expired medicines?