We talk a lot about the things you should not be flushing down toilets or pouring down drains but our advice is usually limited to wet wipes and fats. In Tennessee in the USA, however, warnings have been issued by the authorities about drugs such as methamphetamine (commonly known as meth) being disposed of down the toilet, that could then find their way into the sewage system and be ingested by the alligators that reside there, potentially creating hyped up ‘meth-gators’. See the story here.
That’s the stuff of horror films, right! But it’s ok because here in the UK we can be smug in the knowledge that we don’t have alligators in our sewers, plus we would hazard a guess that not many of us have cause to get rid of meth in a hurry. Phew!
However, while that might be the case, we can’t dismiss this as another bit of bonkers news from America because there is common ground here. We don’t have alligators in our sewer system but we do have rats. And we may not be flushing class A drugs away but we may well dispose of other medications down the toilet or sink. This could include out of date anti-biotics or stronger medications such as opioid pain killers (of which, heroin is a derivative). With an estimated 4 million people in the UK taking anti-depressants and almost half of adults taking some kind of prescription drug, legal drug use is common so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that some of these are finding their way into our drains. We won’t be creating meth-gators but do we really want to see infection-resistant rats, never mind opioid-addicted ones?! We also need to spare a thought for animals closer to home as birds and pets could potentially drink from water in drains around our property and these drugs could make them very ill.
It can be necessary to need to dispose of medications for a number of reasons: they’re out of date, you no longer want to take them, the death of a loved one or recovery that means you no longer need them. They don’t belong down the drain, or even in the bin, so please dispose of them responsibly. That means taking them back to the doctor’s or to a pharmacy who will destroy them properly.
And, while we're talking about drains, please continue to not flush wet wipes or pour fat down the sink as well!
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