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Spring cleaning: a chance to clear out dangers hiding in your medicine cabinet

Spring Cleaning medicine cabinet

Spring cleaning is not only a time to clear your home of unused and unwanted junk. It’s also a chance to sweep your home of a lurking danger. As you sweep your attic, closets, dressers, or garage, take time to clean out your medicine cabinet. It could save a life.

That’s because it’s risky to allow old, unsecured prescriptions to lurk in your home. Young children or pets could accidentally ingest them. Teens could intentionally misuse them. Elderly people could get confused and take the wrong pills.

There are safe ways to get rid of prescription drugs, like take-back days or drop boxes, but they may not always be convenient or accessible. Flushing drugs down the toilet or just tossing them in the garbage easily gets them out of the house but are hardly clean methods, leaving the medicine active and able to potentially contaminate the local water supply.

Fortunately, residents in Carbon, Monroe, and Pike counties have access to RX Destroyer, an at-home, environmentally clean way to not only clear medications from the cabinet but also to neutralize their active ingredients, making sure they can never fall into the wrong hands — or the local ecosystem.

Why dispose of prescription drugs

Each year, there are more than 450,000 poison control center calls and 35,000 emergency room visits for young kids accidentally consuming or overdosing on medication.

Stressed teens subject to peer pressure or seeking ways to cope are particularly at risk of turning to what they find in the medicine cabinet. About 40% of Monroe County students told the 2023 Pennsylvania Youth Survey that they felt depressed most days in the last year. About one quarter said they sometimes felt that life is not worth it, and 19% said they have seriously considered suicide in the last year.

Removing unneeded prescriptions from the home can help mitigate the risks of overdoses, both accidental and intentional.

How to dispose of prescription drugs

When medications are no longer needed or wanted, there are a few  suggested options for disposal.

But not everyone has easy access to specific sites, and personal schedules may not align with occasional take-back events. That is why the Carbon-Monroe-Pike Drug & Alcohol Commission, or CMP, specifically recommends …

  • RX Destroyer, an at-home, easy-to-use way of disposing old drugs that renders them safe for both the trash and the environment. RX Destroyer is also used by hospitals, pharmacies, emergency responders, and government health agencies.

Other at-home methods may be simple but are less effective. They can also pose risks to the environment. For instance, some agencies say it’s fine to mix old medications with coffee grounds or cat litter and throw it all out. That will certainly get the pills out of your house, but the drugs will remain active and could eventually seep out of the landfill and into the surrounding environment.

Similarly, flushing medications down the toilet will expose the local water to still-active medication. The medicine can get into groundwater through septic tanks. In areas with sewer service, wastewater treatment plants may not be able to remove the drugs, which can then pass into lakes, rivers, or even community drinking supplies. The federal Environmental Protection Agency says to  never flush prescription and over-the-counter drugs unless the label specifically says it’s OK.

RX Destroyer is a sure, safe method for spring-cleaners to properly dispose of old drugs.

How RX Destroyer works

RX Destroyer uses a carbon slurry to dissolve medications on contact. No water or batteries are necessary.

Users can simply add medications to the bottle and shake it up. The carbon will quickly take care of any active ingredients in the medicines, rendering them inert. Adding a special hardener turns the liquid into a solid gel so it can be accepted in trash collection — the container and its non-hazardous contents can be thrown out with the garbage as local regulations permit.

The container can be used multiple times until it is full. RX Destroyer works on pills, capsules, patches, powders, and liquids. (But there are limits: Note that it will not work on effervescents or antacids, water-insoluble medications, or any hardware like syringes. It should not be used for hazardous materials like flammable isopropyl alcohol.)

Containers come in multiple sizes, with accessories like funnels available separately. Opened containers can be used over and over again for up to a year while unopened containers can last up to five years.

Where to find RX Destroyer

RX Destroyer can be picked up at any CMP office. Those locations are:

  • In Carbon County, at the county offices in Lehighton.
  • In Monroe County, at the CMP Single County Authority (SCA) office in Stroudsburg.
  • In Pike County, at the county office in Milford.

RX Destroyer is also sold at Walgreens locations nationwide.

Spring cleaning is a chance for a fresh start. By scrubbing your home of unused prescriptions, you can breathe a bit easier, free of both clutter and a real but unnecessary danger.

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