Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Multiple sheriff stations will contribute by acting as free, confidential dropoff sites for the remainder of the year. The organized effort is part of a push to protect kids, pets and the environment, as well as to fight drug abuse.
Whether it’s your leftover antibiotics or even Tylenol that’s expired, you shouldn’t throw unwanted pills in the garbage, said Natalie Jimenez with L.A. County Public Works.
“If they do end up in our trash, they end up in our landfills," she said. "Might seem insignificant, but when we have 10 million people in Los Angeles County and you do it, I do it, someone else does it — it accumulates.”
A variety of agencies consider a surplus of old meds as a problem, but for different reasons.
The Food and Drug Administration is worried that your kids or pets could ingest them.
The Drug Enforcement Administration wants to prevent the abuse of controlled substances. Statistics from the DEA say more Americans abuse prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs combined.
“A lot of times, people don’t know where to take these medications," Jimenez said. "Years ago they used to tell us it was OK to put these medications down the drain. It’s not.”
That's a hot button among environmental scientists and activists, who say you shouldn’t flush medication down the toilet because it could (and often does) end up in the ocean. Scientists are concerned about the impact they could have on marine life.
The rest of the year, you can take unused medications to various sheriff stations designated for safe drug dropoff.