Prescription drug disposal information


By Kay Kaylor

PREVIEW Columnist

For San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA), I am not only a part-time long-term care ombudsman, which is an advocate for residents at Pine Ridge, a 24-hour extended care home, and BeeHive, an assisted living residence. I also am an aging and disability resource specialist and trained Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) and State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor. Information on the many aging and care concerns will be included here.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was Oct. 26 and people may not know that Pagosa Springs Medical Center has a permanent Take Back Meds Dropbox, a metal container about 4 feet high in the hospital near the registration desk. The hours when the drawer is open for dropping off unused and expired prescriptions are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Because medications might fall into the wrong hands or pollute drinking water, rivers, lakes and streams, programs such as these allow people to clean out their medicine cabinets and safely, and anonymously turn in their unused prescription drugs. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs and a majority were obtained from family and friends, often from a home medicine cabinet.

Disposal methods that used to be considered safe, such as flushing prescription drugs down the toilet or mixing them with cat litter, have proven to cause more problems. Wastewater treatment plants do not or cannot remove the drugs from effluent water and the mixed litter in the trash leaches contaminants into landfills.

SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call me at 264-0501, ext. 1 or send an email to