Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon and District Community Educator Naaz Grewal is coordinating the Medicine Return Project to promote safe disposal of unused and expired medications. (CMHA - photo)

CMHA Vernon campaign promotes medication disposal awareness

Expired medications can become ineffective and even toxic: Canadian Mental Health Association

Whether it’s pain medication for an old injury that has since healed, those antibiotics that you forgot to finish taking, or medications you wanted for your vacation two years ago, expired medications can become either ineffective or toxic.

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Vernon and District Branch, has partnered with the Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice, Interior Health and local pharmacies to raise awareness of this issue and support Vernon’s Medication Return Project.

CMHA Vernon will be running a campaign throughout March encouraging Vernon and area residents to return their unused or expired medications safely to any Vernon pharmacy free of charge. Those who take part will be eligible to enter a prize draw.

RELATED: CMHA Vernon raising funds for mental health education and support

“Many people think flushing their medications down the toilet or tossing them in the garbage is a sufficient way to dispose of them,” said Naaz Grewal, CMHA Vernon Community Educator. “But disposing of medication this way can have several negative and harmful consequences.”

Undisposed medications pose an increased risk of accidental ingestion by children. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports 900 youth a year are hospitalized with serious injuries due to accidental consumption of medication.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for youth aged 12 to 18 in B.C., after motor vehicle accidents. Having easy and readily available access to medications in the home can increase suicide behavior in youth at risk of suicide.

RELATED: Shortened daylight in B.C. can put damper on mental health

According to UN Environment, between 70-80 per cent of antibiotics consumed by humans and farm animals not disposed of properly find their way into natural environments steadily increasing the harm to animals in the aquatic systems.

“Properly disposing of medications is easy and helps keep our kids and environment safe,” said Grewal.

· Check for any unused and expired medications around your household including the medicine cabinet, drawers and cupboards;

· Empty all pills into a clear bag or container, but remember to keep liquids, creams and inhalers in their original packaging. All labels on containers should be removed and recycled and pills should be taken out of the blister packs, if possible;

· Take the container of medications to any Vernon pharmacy;

If you return your medication through the month of March you are eligible to enter into a draw. Simply take a picture while returning your medication, use the hashtag #MedReturn2019 and tag CMHA-Vernon on Facebook (@cmhavernon) or Instagram(@cmhavernon) to be entered into a draw for a $50 gift card to the Sprouted Fig.

The winner will be announced on CMHA-Vernon’s social media on April 5.



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