Have you heard that National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day is the third Friday in April each year? This year, it falls on April 16th. By disposing of unneeded and expired medications annually, we can help protect ourselves and others from addiction, as well as, accidental poisoning due to expired medications becoming toxic, an overdose, or even death. Let us review six steps for cleaning out your medicine cabinet:

1. Check the dates. Examine everything in your medicine cabinet, including ointments, supplements, and vitamins. Collect any item that is beyond its expiration date to dispose of. Many medications lose their effectiveness after the expiration date, and some may even become toxic. 

2. For prescriptions, consider following the one-year cut-off rule. Discard any prescriptions that are more than one year old. 

3. Discard any items that have changed color, smell, or taste. This may include items whose color has faded, because they may have been exposed to too much light. 

4. Discard unmarked containers. If something is no longer in its original container and cannot be identified, get rid of it. This includes ointments that could be easily mistaken for creams. 

5. Follow the proper rules for disposing of medication, which we discuss below. 

6. Consider relocating your medicine cabinet. Many people may not know that the bathroom cabinet is not the best place to store medications. The temperature and humidity changes that happen while the shower is running can lower the potency of your medications. Medications should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from children. Often, a dresser drawer in your bedroom may be safer, and with more consistent temperature and humidity, for your medicines. 

How you dispose of unwanted medications can be important. Flushed medications can flow into our water supply, negatively impacting the fish we eat and the water we drink. When discarded into the garbage, medications can leach into the soil and contaminate it. Instead, look for unused and expired medication receptacles at many pharmacies, or participate in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Drug Takeback Day on April 24, 2021. If you must throw away medicine, follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s method for disposing of medicines properly.

We hope you will take advantage of National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day. In the meantime, our office remains available to guide a family through their estate planning options. Please contact our office today to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum.