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Safe Drug Disposal at Prescription Take Back Day

by Katie Pyzyk October 27, 2011 at 10:13 am 3,850 26 Comments

Updated at 10:50 a.m. Start going through your medicine cabinets and gathering your unused medications. Arlington County officials will be on hand for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.

Police and fire officials throughout the county will allow anyone with unused or expired medication to drop it off at designated sites for safe disposal. The program works to prevent prescription drugs from getting into the wrong hands and being abused. It also prevents medications from being disposed of improperly, such as being flushed down the toilet or thrown in the garbage.

You can bring any unwanted medication to the following locations on Saturday from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.:

  • Arlington Fire Station #9, 1900 S. Walter Reed Dr.
  • Arlington Fire Station #8, 4845 Lee Hwy.
  • Arlington Fire Station #1, 500 S. Glebe Rd.
  • Henderson Hall MCX, 1555 Southgate Rd., Ft. Myer
  • Ft. Myer PX, 210 McNair Rd., Ft. Myer
  • Pentagon Parking Lot, 551 Army Navy Dr.
The following location will collect medication Thursday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m.:
  • Chief of Staff Support Office, 111 S. George Mason Dr.

  • Do they publish how they dispose of the medications? They tout the program as preventing drugs from getting into the wrong hands. But, where do they go when I drop them off? I don’t know, just as I don’t know what happens to them if I leave them on a bench somewhere. Someone else could be using or abusing them unless there is some documentation.

    I always flushed mine knowing it was likely the best option. Maybe this is better if it is known what happens. Landfill is horrible because something somewhere could eat them and die. At least a toilet flush goes to a wastewater treatment plant (realizing not all drugs are removed by the plant).

    • FrenchyB

      Don’t flush them, they won’t get filtered out at water treatment plants – http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-03-10-drugs-tap-water_N.htm

    • drax

      Yes, don’t flush them – they end up right back in your drinking water.

      • I realize many of them do, but in a highly diluted manner. Four extra vicoden flushed into a few hundred million gallons of water isn’t likely to be toxic to anything. That said, I only said I thought it was the best option not a good one.

        • Donna

          Multiply that by potentially thousands of people flushing their own prescriptions and the toxicity of your water supply is questionable at best.

    • JimPB

      Flushing meds potentially exposes other living things to them. Not good.

      For Arlington County and Alexandria (maybe other No. Va/ jurisdictions, too), putting unused meds into the trash results in their being incinerated.

      • Or to a crow coming along and eating it, then croaking from overdose.

    • North A-Town Snob

      I believe they just lock all the turned in pills in a room with lindsey lohan and wait a week or so to see if she comes out or not.

  • Novanglus

    ACFD Station #9 is at 1900 S. Walter Reed Dr. The address given in the article is for the Army National Guard (also listed further down).

  • Van Can Fan

    Seems like an easy way for a dealer reading this blog to go score some product in an old-fashioned stickup. Or maybe I just watch too much TV?

  • Nooner

    Flushing prescription medications is not really a good disposal method. Present water treatment facilities have trouble removing the variety of chemicals that medications taint the waste water with. Also, as was said above trashing them is not good either as it ends up in the ground water or out in a landfill where access is unknown.

    This is a good program run by the DEA. They dispose of the medications for the local governments. I think last year they disposed of several tons of medications in this region alone. I would imagine they use the same method that they do for illegal drugs. I watched something on History that demoed their high temp incinerator that they use to dispose of illegal drugs with no smoke/ odor.

    • Anne of Tan Gables

      Nothing gets into or out of a landfill. They are, essentially, hermetically sealed — 50 year old newspapers are still readable. Corncobs do not decompose. Your drugs aren’t going anywhere.

      • drax

        They are SUPPOSED to be hermetically sealed. Doesn’t always happen though.

        Arlington’s trash is incinerated for energy, by the way. It goes to that plant on Eisenhower Ave. in Alexandria.

      • Not really true. Rainfall permeates a landfill and leachate is pumped to a wastewater treatment plant. Medicines could dissolve into the leachate and get into the water supply that way anyway.

        • Z

          But you decide to just flush them anyway…

  • FYI

    I’ll be running a disposal location behind the 7-11 on Wilson Blvd. if anyone needs it. Just let me know and I can meet you out there in 10-15 minutes.

  • alebt

    I just can’t get over what a waste it is to dump unused meds. I get the need to prevent abuse, and I agree this program is better than flushing but really…..with all our technology applications and regulating authorities…we can’t find a way to create a program that uses them effectively and efficiently??! It seems like a “gimme” to the drug companies from where I sit.

    • BonBon

      Well, meds can expire — these chemicals aren’t stable over long periods of time, taking them after that can mess you up, the only thing you can do then is throw them out. For non-expired ones, well, here you go buddy, here’s some meds we got from, well, who knows, but, we *think* they aren’t expired, or contaminated, or are what they say they are. No, I’d rather just buy from a source where I can be sure of what I’m really getting.

      • Well, true….. BUT expiration dates are also a way to ensure more business. Throw it away if it is years old. If it is a few months old I’d take it in a second especially if it is expensive.

        • BonBon

          Sure, but most of the medicine I’ve seen does have expire times measured in years, I can’t remember seeing something that was only good for a few months. Maybe I’m just not taking the right medicines….

        • Loocy

          A friend who worked for a drug company always told me that the expiration dates were set extremely conservatively — after a tiny percentage drop in effectiveness. Also, pills don’t generally degenerate in a way that would make them dangerous — possibly liquid meds, but not pills.

          BTW, my friend very happily used significantly expired meds and vitamins. She’s still around.

    • drax

      Would you take someone else’s used meds?

  • Steamboat Willie

    The really good meds are meant to be shared with friends, not disposed of.

  • Dee

    I planted mine in the backyard but am still waiting for the tree to grow.

  • Clay Gottschall

    Note that Arlington trash is sent to an incinerator, not to a landfill. Incineration is a better alternative for unused meds. Here is recommendation from county website: http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/EnvironmentalServices/swd/HouseholdHazMat/page76529.aspx

  • Stoned

    I feed my excess prescription medicine to my dog and get amused by the way that they affect him.

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