Amarillo, TX- Thousands of people die from taking unused, expired and no longer needed medications every year.
We've seen many cases locally.
A medication cleanout was held in our area today in hopes of saving lives.
"People of all ages are subject to medication error. So the more medications you have stored in your cabinet, the more likely you are to pick up the wrong thing," says Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo, Texas Panhandle Poison Center.
If left inside the home, they can become potential sources of poisoning.
"Our teens tend to think, since mom and dad have these medications in the home they've got to be safe. So if they're subject to experimentation or peer pressure to experiment, they go to the home medicine cabinet and look what's in there. They think it will be ok so they take it and share it with friends," says Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo, Texas Panhandle Poison Center.
Which could put their health at serious risk.
"Some of the heavy narcotics, if someone has never taken them before and they take them one time, it can actually depress their breathing and they could stop breathing. Kids can die from this, they can get addicted really quickly," says Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo, Texas Panhandle Poison Center.
Disposing of medications the wrong way could even put the community at risk.
"If you've actually flushed those medications down the toilet then they can get into our water system. You know they get into the sewer and that water is filtered but it doesn't filter out drugs. So then those drugs can end up in our water system. If they get into our rivers and our streams, it could actually affect aquatic life. If you throw them in the trash, then you can have children getting into the trash," says Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo, Texas Panhandle Poison Center.
There are ways you can help.
"We still suggest that they mix medications with kitty liter and some water in a baggy and then dispose of that in the trash," says Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo, Texas Panhandle Poison Center.
They are working to make a difference.
"We publish that data so doctors can see what items are being over-prescribed and you know what prescriptions are not being used. So we're hoping in the long run to actually have an impact on how much medication goes unused in the house," says Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo, Texas Panhandle Poison Center.