Because I am "not young," I have drugs in my house. More than ibuprofen, aspirin and over-the-counter medications: I've got the good stuff. Back when I had minor surgery, I filled a prescription pain killers, the kind that put you to sleep, the kind that make your mouth all dry, nighty-night pills. Between my medical history and my husband's, we've practically got a pharmacy in my medicine cabinet. Right after surgery, I was proud of myself for not taking pain killers, because I didn't want to get addicted. I thought it would be wise to save the meds for a time when I was really in pain. Smart, right? Nope. Most of these pills have names I can't pronounce, let alone spell. I no longer remember what they treat. They are expired. Some are actually for my husband or my dad, or my daughter, or my dog. I think I know the right amount to take, but it's been years. I'm really not the same person I was 15 years ago, and the dog died ten years ago.  If I have a headache, do I take escitalabenzodiene or benzodiascitalaprozalam, or some other collection of letters from the alphabet? Can I use these words when playing scrabble? Just typing them out gives me a headache.

I donate clothes if I haven't worn them for a year or two. Why am I hanging on to these pills? Okay, time to donate them and save someone else from having to pay for a prescription. Many states, have a recycle program for left over medications. Here is a national site that talks about recycling medications: State Prescription Drug Return, Reuse and Recycling Laws  Problem solved! Oh, nope. They don't take expired medications. It looks like I need a disposal unit.

Fortunately, there is a website that will tell you where you can drop off your expired medications. I put in my zip code and came up with three locations that are within a few miles of my house. Here's the website: The Department of Justice DEA Diversion and Control Division Controlled Substance Public Disposal Locations

One site was a Walgreens. I called their main number and tried to explain to the automatic voice recognition software that I wanted to talk to someone about taking my drugs. The automated voice replied with "I think you want the photo department, Yes?"  Eventually the automated system and I agreed that I needed to interact with a person, and sent me to talk to someone in the pharmacy. I could tell that the pharmacist who took my call was busy, but she patiently explained that there is a metal box in the store. It looks sort of like a mailbox. You can take your pill bottles and just drop them into the opening. It isn't possible to get them out once they have been deposited. About once every two weeks, someone comes by and picks up the contents. The pharmacist didn't know how the medications were disposed of. I got the feeling she didn't really care, either. 

Reasons to keep my old drugs:

  • I might be in pain some day and not able to get to the doctor because the office isn't open yet (very possible)
  • I might be in pain some day and too poor to go to the doctor (also very possible)
  • I might be able to trade the pills for clean water in a post-apocalyptic world (possible? who knows?)
  • A doctor might run into my house and say "I need escitalabenzodiene! Stat!" and I would be prepared for once. (not possible. I am never prepared.)


Reasons to get rid of these drugs:

  • I might be in pain and take the wrong one, or the wrong amount, and overdose and die (possible)
  • I might be having a great day and not paying attention and my grandchild might get into the pills and eat them and die (very possible if I ever have a grandchild)
  • A burglar might brake into my house and steal them and then, try to sell them to a police officer and the police might think I was the burglar's supplier (possible)
  • The police might think I am some kind of supplier kingpin and search my house and find all kinds of old drugs and arrest me as a drug kingpin (this seems very possible)

The only reason that really resonates with me is the one about a grandchild. I am fearful of damaging a grandchild I don't yet have, so I'm going to turn in the medications at Walgreens. While there, maybe I'll get my flu shot.