Cleaning Out Your Medicine Cabinet

January 24, 2014

All too frequently we forget about expired or unused medications in the far corners of our medicine cabinets. Keeping old medication around is not safe for many reasons, and now that we have multiple local medicine disposal drop boxes, we should all make an effort to clean out our medicine cabinets today.

Expired medications can be less effective and possibly harmful. The FDA requires expiration dates on all medical products to help you determine if a product is safe to use and will work as intended. The chemistry of many drugs changes over time and in different environments. Once expired, a medication may no longer do what it was intended to do, and should be disposed of immediately.

Keeping pharmaceutical drugs you do not need can also be dangerous. Children, family members or pets could mistakenly consume medication not intended for them. The best way to keep medication out of reach is to remove it from your home.

In the past, you may have been told to flush unused medication down the toilet. However, research suggests that medications, when poured down the drain or flushed, can end up in bodies of water where they can harm the environment. The FDA does not want to add any amount of drug residues into water systems unnecessarily, so flushing medications is not recommended.

Today, medicine take-back programs have popped up all over the country to facilitate proper disposal of medications. In our community, you can drop off unwanted medication in secure drop boxes at the following locations.

Seymour Drug Dropbox
Seymour Police Department Lobby
Open 24 hours every day
11 Franklin Street
Seymour, CT

Shelton Drug Drop Box
Shelton Police Department Lobby
Open 24 hours every day
85 Wheeler Street
Shelton, CT

Stratford Drug Take-Back Drop Box
Stratford Police Department Lobby
Open 24 hours every day
900 Longbrook Avenue
Stratford, CT

Monroe’s Drug Take-Back Days
The Monroe Police Department, in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), schedules two drug take-back days every year. Look for detailed information from the Monroe Police Department in April and October.

All these programs allow for anonymous medication disposure. The below list from Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection details what you can and cannot bring to the drop boxes. Please check with your local police department if you have any questions.

You CAN dispose of:

  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Prescription medications
  • Medication samples
  • Medications for household pets
  • Medicated lotions or ointments

You CANNOT dispose of:

  • Needles or other “sharps”
  • Hazardous waste
  • Thermometers
  • Personal care products (shampoo, etc.)

I encourage you to take the time to clean out your medicine cabinets as soon as possible. We are very lucky to have great local resources to help us keep our homes, and our community, healthy and safe.