It’s not uncommon to wake up one morning and “feel something coming on.” Whether it’s a headache, sore throat or body aches, we can generally tell when we’re getting sick.

This often leads to some over-the-counter meds, a hot tea or some rest. If we’re lucky, we’re up and at ‘em in a day or so. If not, we’re calling our health care providers for prescription medications.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in 2014, 245 million prescriptions were dispensed by our nation’s pharmacies. This is almost enough to give every adult American their own bottle of pills.

The concerning part, though, is approximately 200 million pounds of medications are thrown away, flushed or kept in medicine cabinets unused each year.

Because of the excess of unused medications, and the recent opioid epidemic plaguing our nation, it’s important to ditch the meds when you’re done with them and to ditch them properly through a medication take-back program.

Here’s why:

  1. Unused or expired meds can lead to accidental poisoning, overdosing or abuse.
  2. Most people who abuse medications get them from family and friends’ medicine cabinets.
  3. Prescription medications can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription written specifically for you.
  4. Medications thrown in the trash can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold.
  5. Medications that are flushed contaminate water supplies.

To help, Geisinger Health System offers a Medication Take-Back Program. This program offers more than 20 medication take-back boxes throughout its service area to help you properly dispose of any unused medications.

The take-back boxes are easy to use and accept prescription and over-the-counter medications, including narcotics, in solid, liquid, patch, cream, ointment and spray form. Inhalers, needles, syringes and aerosols are not accepted. All boxes are securely locked and under 24/7 security surveillance.

For more information about Geisinger’s take-back boxes, including locations, hours and frequently asked questions, visit Geisinger.org/takeback.

pill bottle