Each year, doctors write hundreds of millions of prescriptions for a variety of medications. Many of these medications don’t get used completely and end up sitting in medicine cabinets and drawers, where they can be a danger to family members, other guests in the home or in the case of opioids, the person first prescribed the medication.
Construction workers experience higher rates of injury and illness than many other professions, making it more likely they’ll be prescribed medications for both acute injuries and chronic conditions. Substance use disorders (SUDs) are also more common among the construction workforce than the general population, increasing the risk for addiction when workers are prescribed opioids. Both of these factors make the safe handling and disposal of medications important for construction workers.
Safe Medication Disposal at Home
Previously, the easiest way to dispose of unused opioids and other excess or expired medications was usually to participate in a drug take-back day. These events encourage people to drop off unused medications at police stations, pharmacies, LIUNA health and welfare funds and other safe locations with no questions asked. While these events are a great option, they still essentially require people to run an errand, which can make it less likely for medications to be removed from the home. Fortunately, there are now alternative at-home options that are worth exploring.
The Deterra® Drug Deactivation System is a simple, safe medication disposal pouch that prevents drug abuse by permanently deactivating pills, patches, liquids, creams, and films right at home. Deterra pouches and containers deactivate pills and other medications using organic activated carbon, which renders drugs ineffective and safe for disposal in regular household trash. Using the product at home is a simple three-step process:
Deterra pouches and containers are a safe and easy way to remove unused or unwanted medications from your home in a way that also has less impact on the environment. The EPA discourages disposing of medications by flushing them down the toilet because their chemical components can end up in groundwater or be carried to wastewater treatment plants, which are generally not equipped to remove them.
Tips for Safe Medication Storage
Store medications out of the reach of children. Talk to your children about not taking medications unless an adult is present.
- Follow the dosage instructions recommended by your doctor and never take a medication intended for someone else.
- Remove unused medications from your home promptly when they are no longer needed. Check expiration dates regularly and remove those medications as well.
Deterra Drug Disposal Pouches Provided at Fund-Sponsored Health Fairs
Taking steps to reduce injuries from happening on the job is the best option we have to prevent workers’ pain and the need for prescription medications in the first place. While opioid prescribing rates have dropped since their peak in 2012, there were still more than 140 million opioid prescriptions written in 2020. That’s a lot of potentially harmful medications in the homes of families across the U.S.
The LHSFNA is a strong advocate for helping workers and others recover from SUDs and supports the use of harm reduction tools like Narcan to save lives. Safely removing potentially dangerous medications from the home is another harm reduction tool we can all practice.
As a new Fund initiative, the LHSFNA now makes Deterra drug disposal pouches available as part of Fund-sponsored health fairs, along with educational material explaining the purpose of the bags and how to use them.
The Fund can also assist LIUNA affiliates, such as District Councils and Local Unions, interested in purchasing large quantities of Deterra drug disposal bags for distribution as part of other initiatives. For more information, contact Jamie Becker, the Fund’s Director of Health Promotion, by calling 202-628-5465 or using the Fund’s Contact Us page.