With a raging opioid epidemic in the U.S. and millions of leftover prescription pills in our homes, Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA) and Recovery Centers of America (RCA) believe we all have a duty to destroy and deactivate our unused medications in a safe and environmentally friendly way. RCA and MAPDA are teaming up on this issue to help bring awareness to the public on the dangers of unused and expired prescription pills in their homes.

Recovery Centers of America, a healthcare network offering a full continuum of addiction treatment services in the Northeast and MidAtlantic, has among other locations, a Medication-Assisted-Treatment clinic in Trenton, NJ.

Keeping highly addictive drugs in the medicine cabinet “just in case” is a dangerous practice. According to SAMHSA, more than half of individuals misusing prescription opioids bought, were given, or stole the prescription drugs from a friend or relative, often from the home medicine cabinet.

Additionally, improper disposal of unused and expired medications also damages our environment. Measurable amounts of antibiotics, antidepressants and medications used to treat diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure have all been found in U.S. lakes and rivers.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”), between 2006 and 2012, drug companies saturated  our country’s pharmacies with over 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills.  Often, the opioid pills prescribed for post-surgical use are unused or expired but are kept indefinitely in people’s homes.

The MAPDA/RCA team says that these drugs need to be deactivated and destroyed and then disposed of — not only to prevent misuse and addiction– but also because these extra pills create an environmental hazard. Flushing some of these pills down the toilet or sink and mixing with other substances like kitty litter do not meet the “non-retrievability” standard for safe disposal and can poison our water supply.

RCA and MAPDA explained that many options exist for safe disposal of leftover drugs locally, including “dropoff” boxes provided by cities and first responders, so contacting your local township for suggested methods and sites of safe disposal of unwanted drugs is a good first step.

Additionally, Recovery Centers of America and Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA)  are providing a limited supply of Deterra environmentally safe at-home drug disposal pouches at RCA events in the upcoming months.    

MAPDA is a nonprofit consumer organization started by three mothers who lost children to prescription drug overdoses. The organization aims to prevent prescription drug abuse before it starts and support individuals in recovery. Mary Bono, a well-known political speaker and consumer advocate, now heads up the organization headquartered in the Washington DC suburbs.