Health experts encourage proper disposal of medications to help save lives

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Tuesday is International Overdose Awareness Day. Health experts encourage everyone to know how to properly dispose of their medications and knowing how can help save lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the state of Texas over 3,000 deaths were due to drug overdose, opioids being the most common.

South Texas Health System Pharmacy Director Odessa Hinojosa said drug overdose is more common than one thinks but it is preventable. 

Hinojosa said it is important to read all labels or given information that comes with any prescribed medication. 

She said all labels should provide instructions on how to take the medication but also how to dispose of it responsibly.

“Most often when you pick up your medications, you are given information from the pharmacy, and part of that big sheet of paper that you get is how to dispose of it,” she said. 

Valley Baptist Medical Center Director of Pharmacy Tu Johnson said there are three common ways for people to properly dispose of prescribed medication. 

According to Johnson, the DEA disposable collection site allows you to look for locations where you can dispose of medications. 

The second option is to search the CDC flush list in order to find a list of medications that are okay to flush down the toilet.

Johnson said a third option is throwing medication in the trash but stresses the importance of doing that properly.

If you are going to follow that method you want to make sure that the medications are no longer retrievable,” he said.

According to Johnson, the following items are ways that one can mix with their medications:

  • cat litter
  • coffee grounds
  • dirt

Johnson said all ingredients should be sealed into a plastic bag and then put into the trash can.

He said the preferred option is to find a location where you can properly dispose of medications because when you introduce drugs into the waste streams, they eventually go back into the human body. 

Hinojosa and Johnson added that the proper disposal of fentanyl patches is important because there are kids and pets that die from fentanyl patches every year.

Both encourage everyone to ask their pharmacist, doctor, or nurses for help if needed.

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