Understanding The After-Effects Of Improper Prescription Medication Disposal

Understanding The After-Effects Of Improper Prescription Medication Disposal

Storing medication is something many individuals practice. They have various reasons why they continue to do so, with many wanting to access their medication right away without constantly buying it in the pharmacy. Others tend to store just in case they needed it in the future.

However, what’s unfortunate about storing too much prescription medication is that only a few people know how to properly dispose of them. Storing extra medication is prevalent in many American households, and this practice opens a lot of health dangers, such as medication abuse.

That’s why it’s essential that every individual knows and understands that storing and disposing of prescription medication has side effects that can affect both the environment and the community.

Why Is Storing Excessive Medication Not A Good Idea?

We should be reminded that prescriptive medication is tailored to a person’s specific health condition, and every prescription is unique. Other people cannot use or intake such prescribed medication as it could potentially endanger their health.

That’s why storing excessive medication in your medicine cabinet can open doors to drug abuse. It can be either one of your family members, friends, or relatives who can abuse the drug.

Also, storing excessive medication is a waste of money. Eventually, your health will improve, which will result in wasted money on the medication you can’t take. This could lead to unused and expired medication stored in your medicine cabinet and, eventually, to the trash. However, one must also take into mind the proper medication disposal process.

The best-recommended action to prevent storing excess medication is avoiding a request for a refill without your physician’s advice. You can ask or wait for your physician’s refill prescription before running to the nearest pharmacy. This way, you save your money and also keep your medicine cabinet tidy.

The Dangers Of Improper Disposal

There are various dangers that improper medication disposal can do. It can affect the community, the environment, and your health.

Environmental Impact

When you flush your pills down the drain, along with other prescription medication, where do you think it goes? If your answer is to the water system, you’re right.

Every time you flush down the toilet after taking a pee, it goes to the water system. After that, the water gets treated and back again to our faucets. However, things are different when we flush down our used, expired, or even unused medications down the drain.

The U.S. water systems and wastewater facilities are not explicitly designed to remove medical residuals and chemicals from the water. Unfortunately, there is no current effective treatment that can remove traces of pharmaceutical residuals from treated water. However, flushing down prescriptive medication in communities is not the sole contributor to why the environment suffers. Farms, livestock owners, and hospitals play a part as well.

This is where the U.S. FDA (United States Food and Drug Association) and U.S. EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) comes in. According to the U.S. FDA, there is a list of medications that can be flushed. You can refer to their list available on their site. In any case, you can’t access that, you can always check the medication labels. If the packaging states that it can be flushed down, there’s no harm in doing so.

Hazards To Human Health

There are two common health hazards improper disposal of prescriptive medication can do: drug abuse and accidental poisoning. Both can lead to devastating consequences, such as death.

●     Potential Drug Abuse

Drug and medication abuse is a rampant and common problem anywhere in the world. When prescriptive medication is not correctly disposed of, anyone can access it and potentially abuse it. There is even news about individuals intentionally searching landfills to look for thrown away medication.

This can be prevented if we all know how to properly dispose of and throw away prescribed medication. Before throwing old medication, make sure to mix it with cat litter or anything odd so that it can be challenging to identify. Lack of easy identification can keep the wrong person from taking it.

●     Accidental Poisoning

Potential drug abuse is a human health hazard, but accidental poisoning is one thing we should also consider. Storing unused and expired medication is the root of the problem. Poisoning is common with children as they are more vulnerable to dwell into their curiosity. They can mistake colored pills for candies and take them without their guardian’s knowledge. Moreover, it can also harm your pets.

There are kids ages five and below who are taken into the emergency rooms due to accidental poisoning caused by unintentional medication overdose each year. This is alarming as children are still vulnerable to a more significant health risk if the poisoning is not resolved right away.


Understanding the after-effects of improper medication disposal is vital as every individual must take steps in preventing the danger it brings. Hence, it’s essential to be educated on how to stop storing too much medication.

Buying excessive medication and storing it for a long time could potentially lead to various problems. That’s why it’s important to learn control when refilling medication, understanding proper storage, and knowing the correct way of disposing of it.


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