All Points Medical Waste Blog

Unused Opioids: Safe Disposal

Preventing deadly consequences

Every day in the USA 130 people die from an opioid overdose—enough to deem this nationwide crisis an epidemic. On April 27, 2019, the FDA launched a campaign to spread awareness about the importance of properly disposing of unused opioids and the role that all Americans play in this critical issue. The campaign, entitle Reduce the Risk, was created to teach proper disposal of unused opioids, but also to help decrease unnecessary exposure to the drug and to prevent addiction.

The dangers of unused opioids

Opioids are a prescription medication that is used to relieve pain, and when taken properly can be beneficial to the patient who is recovering from an illness, injury or surgery. But often, patients can become addicted by misusing or abusing the medication. Opioids are also falling into the wrong hands when patients improperly dispose of unused doses or store it where it can be stolen.

A recent report shows that in 2017, retail pharmacies dispensed more than 191 million opioid prescriptions to almost 60 million patients. As many as 90% of these patients reported not finishing all of the medication that was prescribed to them, leaving potentially millions of unused opioids in the medicine cabinets of homes all over the United States if not disposed of properly. The report also shows that nearly 48,000 people died of opioid-related overdoses that same year. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, half of the people who misused prescription opioids got them from a friend or family member.

The Reduce the Risk Campaign, an initiative by the FDA includes a variety of tools and resources for patients to teach about proper disposal and the dangers of abuse and addiction.

The campaign includes television, radio, print and social media public service announcements in both English and Spanish.

Safe disposal—best practices

Patients who do not finish their opioid medication are advised not to leave it in their home and to safely dispose of it by following the procedures set forth by the FDA. The preferred method is to bring the medication back to an authorized location including retail pharmacies, hospital or clinic pharmacies or a local law enforcement agency that offers take-back programs. You can also look for mail-back or drop-off options in your community. It’s important to note that opioids should never be thrown out in the garbage or flushed down the toilet.

If you or a loved one has been prescribed opioids be sure to follow the dosage carefully and keep the medication in a secure place while you are taking it. Also, make sure you follow the safety standards for proper disposal to ensure that unused doses do not fall into the wrong hands.

For more information on proper medication disposal or other medical waste topics, please visit our blog. All Points Medical Waste is committed to safe and proper disposal of medical waste in our community and proudly provides full-service medical waste disposal to a variety of healthcare-related facilities across South Florida. Get in touch with us today to find out more about what we do.

Dawn Connelly

Dawn is the vice president of All Points Medical Waste. All Points Medical Waste is a family-owned and operated medical waste disposal and compliance company that has been serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beaches, and surrounding areas since 1994.
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