What are the issues?
Improper disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications lead to:
- Poisoning from accidental ingestion, particularly among young children and pets (when medicines are thrown in the trash).
- Illegal use or theft, including identity theft, from discarded containers providing personal patient information.
- Contamination of water resources, which can result in reproductive and developmental problems in fish and other aquatic wildlife (when medicines are flushed or placed in the trash)
Prescription drug diversion and abuse are significant issues in Maine and the Nation. According to a 2007 study conducted by the Partnership for a Drug Free America:
- 1 in 10 teens have abused prescription drugs in their lifetime.
- 1 in 3 teens report knowing someone who abuses prescription drugs
- 8 out of 10 teens who misuse prescription drugs get the drugs from friends or relatives or by stealing, buying or asking someone for the drugs.
How can I reduce the quantity of unwanted medications in my home?
- Purchase only as much as you need and take the medication as prescribed.
- Centralize all medications in one location secure from children, teenagers and pets. This may help limit inadvertent over-purchasing of medicines, accidental poisonings, and prescription drug abuse or diversion.
- Consider alternative treatments such as chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, and light and aroma therapy.
- Say "no" to prescription samples if you are not going to use them.
Medication Disposal Dos and Don'ts
- Do not flush down the toilet or drain.
- Do not give or sell to others. Under Maine law, selling or giving away any type of prescription drug is a crime.
- Do not dispose of in the trash.
- Take to a local drop off center or contact your local police department. Most police departments in Aroostook County have agreed to collect unused and unwanted medicines for their communities. Local police department numbers are listed below.
- Participate in annual collections (typically in August or September in Aroostook County).
Local Drop Off Centers and Local Police Departments
Local Drop Off Centers through Safe Medicine Disposal for ME are one way for Maine residents to safely and properly get rid of unused or expired medicine.
How the program works:
- Postage-paid medicine disposal kits are distributed to participating pharmacies and other locations throughout Maine.
- Pharmacists and site contacts then give the kits, including a postage-paid envelope, instruction packet, and survey to interested individuals.
- Participants follow the enclosed instructions to place unused medicine in the envelope. They also complete the survey and place it in the envelope.
- Envelopes are returned by mail to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the medicine is safely destroyed.
Participating sites in Aroostook County:
Aroostook Wellness, 22 Birdseye Ave Ste. A, Caribou, 492-0346
Rite Aid Pharmacy, 112 Bennett Dr., Caribou, 498-8735
Houlton Council of Catholic Women, Houlton, 532-9851
Rite Aid Pharmacy , 137 North St., Houlton, 532-6876
Local Police Departments in Aroostook County are an option for Aroostook County residents who wish to safely dispose of their medications. Most police departments in the County have agreed to collect medicines on behalf of their communities. Contact numbers are below.
Presque Isle (207) 764-2534
Houlton (207) 532-2287
Caribou (207) 493-3301
Washburn (207) 455-4045
Fort Fairfield (207) 472-3808
Fort Kent (207) 834-5678
Van Buren (207) 868-3481
Madawaska (207) 728-6356
Limestone (207) 325-4702
Aroostook agencies partnering to address the issue of prescription drug disposal and abuse: Aroostook Chiefs of Police, Aroostook Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, Cary Medical Center, Healthy Aroostook, Houlton Regional Hospital, Link for Hope Coalition, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Northern Maine Medical Center, Power of Prevention, The Aroostook Medical Center, and Vital Pathways.