Dangers of Non-Disposal
It’s easy to forget about old medication, especially if you no longer use them; however, there are many dangers to doing so, not only to you but also to those who enter your home. Here are some potential consequences of improper medication disposal.
The chemical composition of expired prescription medication changes over time, sometimes leading to weaker effects or no effect at all. Some expired medications may experience bacterial growth and can become harmful, even poisonous, to anyone who consumes them. Others, if taken after expiration, can lead to antibiotic resistance, which makes it harder for you to get better if you need that drug later on. You should always adhere to the expiration dates on your bottles of medication. In the event that this information has worn off the bottle over time, you can always call up your pharmacist, who will have a digital record of your drug information.
Gateway to Addiction
Sadly, opioid misuse has become far too commonplace, and this is among more than just young adults. In fact, older adults are among the most at-risk populations for opioid use disorder, due to their increased medication sensitivity and slower metabolisms. Older adults are also more frequently prescribed highly addictive opioid-based medication. When used as directed, these drugs pose little danger; however, it becomes risky when we keep the medication around after it’s served its original purpose.
Although storing extra pills from your spouse’s surgery in that catch-all kitchen drawer may seem harmless, it provides easy access for you and the people you care about to make mistakes.
It might start with you or your partner using the pills to help with poor sleep. Alternatively, it might affect your teenage grandson when he comes to visit and decides to experiment with the pills. Either way, the risks when administering prescription medications, especially narcotics, without a doctor’s direction, are high. If you’re lucky enough to have no medical complications, initially, it doesn’t end there. The possible impact of addiction can be life-threatening.
Roughly 50,000 children under the age of five are taken to the emergency rooms each year for possible poisoning because they unintentionally took someone else’s medication. Young children are curious, and it never fails to surprise me how they get into everything. If they’re roaming your house and find a food or candy-like substance, chances are, they’ll try putting it in their mouths.
FYI: If you’re using the garbage to get rid of your unused or expired medication, specifically narcotics or amphetamines, you could be fueling an addict’s problem without even knowing it, as those struggling with addiction have been known to rummage through trash for pills.