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Safe medication disposal

  • Published
  • By Maj. Frances Bartz
  • 90th Medical Support Squadron
You keep your money in a safe place; if you had ammunition or a firearm you, as a responsible citizen, should keep them in a safe place, but what about your controlled substance medications?

Prescription drug abuse is a large and growing problem in our country. There is a street value for many common medications that contain hydrocodone or oxycodone such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco and Percocet. A growing number of emergency department visits, poisonings and deaths are due to accidental or intentional ingestion of such drugs.

You are encouraged to do your part by making sure that medications are only in the hands of those who need them. You might not be aware but babysitters, visitors, friends, children or anyone who comes into your home could potentially help themselves to your medication. There is a potential danger to animals and children who come in contact with disposed controlled medications. High-risk items include opiates, which are in pain medications that can cause a person to stop breathing. An example is fentanyl which comes in patches, lozenges, and other dosage forms.

If you are currently in possession of a controlled-substance medication used for pain, sleep, anxiety, a stimulant for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or narcolepsy, medication used for muscle spasms or seizures, please ensure you keep them secure. If you don't need them anymore, please get rid of them. How? Please don't pollute the waterways; you don't want to flush controlled substances down the drain. The United States Food and Drug Administration has a list of medications that can be flushed to help prevent danger to people and pets in the home and can be found by doing a Web search for: "Medicines Recommended for Disposal by Flushing."

For small amounts of other tablets or capsules, you can crush them and mix it with something granular and unpalatable such as sand, soil, kitty litter or coffee grounds, put it in a zip-top plastic bag or other sealed container and discard in the trash. For large amounts, it is often easier to turn the medication in. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency rules only allow law enforcement agencies to take back controlled substances.

Controlled substances can be turned in at the Cheyenne Police station at any time. The Laramie County Sheriff accepts controlled substances Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please contact the Fort Collins or Loveland police department for information, if needed.

Non-controlled medications can be discarded, donated or turned in to the pharmacy. If you discard medications in the trash, please remove any personal information and put them in a sealed container or bag with an undesirable substance as described above. The Wyoming Medication Donation Program, located at 2508 E. Fox Farm Road, Suite 2A, collects medications from unopened containers that are not expired, and can be distributed to folks who have no prescription insurance. Their phone number is 307-635-1297. This program is especially helpful when you get a medication and then your provider changes it or you no longer need it. Remember, this program only accepts non-controlled substances. The F. E. Warren pharmacy also accepts non-controlled medication for turn-in, if you prefer.