Don’t Hang on to Meds!

King County campaign helps residents properly dispose of old and unwanted medications safely and easily.

It’s something many people don’t often think about. The near-empty orange cylinder of hydrocodone from a past surgery or the half-full bottle of codeine cough syrup from a sick infant. But these leftover medications – often stored in easily accessible containers – can cause harm to children, pets, and the environment. But there is good news. King County is making it easier than ever to recycle your meds through their Don’t Hang on to Meds campaign.

King County’s Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Taskforce promotes the recycling program to keep your family, friends, and environment safe. The County has over 100 safe boxes at locations near you to dispose of your medications. But you may be thinking: How are these old medications even dangerous?

Public health data shows that prescription drugs are often a first step to opioid abuse and accidental overdose. Teens think they’re safe because they’re prescribed by a doctor. Furthermore, prescription bottles are not as safe as you think. Usually “child-proof” just means it takes longer for a child to get the lid off a container, it doesn’t actually stop a child or teen from getting them open. Getting rid of these unwanted prescriptions helps friends and family members veer from a path of illicit opioid use, or, in the worst case, overdose.

The environment is also negatively affected when old prescriptions are not disposed of properly. In the Puget Sound region, mussels have tested positive for opioids. Although much of the contamination comes from human excretion, scientists point to improper disposal of old prescriptions as a factor in lake, river, and ocean pollution.

It’s easy to see how old or unwanted medications can easily harm the things you love. Why not safely dispose of your unwanted medications? Don’t Hang on to Meds! Medicine return drop-boxes are at grocery stores, pharmacies, clinics, and other locations in King County. Find one near you at or text MEDS to 667873.

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