Help Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

Leftover and unwanted medications sitting in your medicine cabinet put communities at risk for prescription drug abuse and unintentional poisoning. According to the Montana Attorney General’s Office, prescription drug abuse factors into the deaths of over 300 Montanans each year, making it more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Additionally, Montana ranks third in the nation for teen abuse of prescription pain relievers. More than half of these youths say that prescription drugs are easier to get than other illicit substances. These alarming statistics highlight the importance of doing what we can to fight what the Attorney General’s Office calls an “invisible epidemic.”

It’s important to dispose of unwanted or expired prescription drugs carefully and correctly. Very few can be flushed down the toilet, and precations should be taken before simply tossing them in the trash. Before throwing unwanted or expired drugs in the trash take the following steps provided by the FDA:

  • Take the drugs out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. The medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash.
  • Put them in a sealable bag, empty can or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
  • Before throwing out a medicine container, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.
  • Do not give medications to friends. Doctors prescribe drugs based on a person’s specific symptoms and medical history. A drug that works for you could be dangerous for someone else.
  • When in doubt about proper disposal, talk to your pharmacist.

Over the past year, Montanans have turned in several tons of unwanted and unused or expired prescription drugs through drug drop-off events. Great Falls residents have the added convenience of having the nation’s first 24/7 Prescription Drug Drop-Off Box. Bring your expired or unwanted prescription drugs by the Montana Highway Patrol location anytime to deposit them in the permanent secured box.

“With prescription drug abuse on the rise in our state. It is important to closely monitor medications in our homes and get rid of those drugs we no longer have a use for,” says Attorney General Steve Bullock. “By limiting easy access to drugs that are potentially dangerous when misused, we reduce the risk of accidental poisonings, illegal diversion and abuse in our community.”