Guida Brown headshot



Another national prescription drug take-back day has come and gone, and I’d guess that some readers missed it. Most people know that disposing of unused medications in appropriate disposal boxes such as those at every police station in Kenosha County is the best way to safely dispose of the medications, but I bet some folks still have unused medications in their homes. Some folks still pour them into the toilet or mix them with kitty litter or dirt. And some folks are saving them until the next time they or people they know have symptoms similar to the ones before the prescription was written.

These are all poor alternatives! Disposing of medications into the toilet affects the water system, and there’s growing evidence that prescriptions are getting into the drinking water supply. Mixing prescription drugs with kitty litter or dirt in order to dispose of them doesn’t keep them from being abused; people willing to take them aren’t quite that particular about where their drugs came from.

Saving them for the next similar symptoms is also a bad idea, since sharing prescription drugs with anyone is always illegal, and your taking them for another reason is also illegal. Even taking your own prescription more than one year after the prescription is written is illegal, since prescriptions are only valid for one year. Sure, no one is going to be randomly checking, but imagine the unimaginable: you’re in a car accident, and you have that outdated prescription in your system. That will lead to additional legal problems.

Also imagine that your house gets burglarized. In today’s climate, the most likely reason for burglary is to take your prescription drugs or to steal other items in order to buy drugs, so it’s best to not even have prescription medications available.

So, what can you do with medications you no longer need but have lying around your home? The same safe disposal is necessary for ALL prescriptions, whether they’re prescribed to humans or not, so consider your pets’ prescriptions, too! And, while I’m on the topic, remember that you don’t need to take ALL painkillers…nor do your pets.

Healthcare professionals have done a great job reminding us to take all antibiotics in order to not assist in growing resistant strains of bacteria, but painkillers are different. They should only be taken as long as they are needed to reduce pain! Never feel as though you have to use the entire prescription of painkillers!

The Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition has a great alternative if you missed the drug take-back day or you just can’t remember to take your bottles to the medication disposal boxes: medication de-activation supplies! These supplies provide a safe solution for the disposal of unused or expired medications, and we have them available to you at no charge.

Stop at the Hope Council on Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse, 5942 Sixth Avenue, and pick up the free supplies that you need. Call me at 658-8166 for more information.

Guida Brown is co-chairwoman of the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition.