How often have we heard the doctor say, “Remember to take the full number of tablets.” but, when we feel better, we stop. It always seems such a waste. Antibiotics are expensive. We always justify keeping the half-empty bottle alongside all the others. You never know, we say to ourselves, they may come in useful. Except, they never do. So, when the day comes for clearing the shelves, what do we do with all these now unwanted drugs? In more innocent days, we might just have thrown them into the dumpster or flushed them down the toilet. Now we should think more about the consequences. Most of the trash from the dumpsters goes into landfill sites. Water washes through the mounds of rubbish, leaching all the chemicals into the ground. Over time, they move down to the water table and from there into streams and rivers. Similarly, what we flush down the toilets passes through the sewers directly into the local rivers or the nearby sea. Further downstream, river water gets taken up by the next town or city. It goes through the treatment plant and into the drinking water supply. Animals drink from the rivers and fish live in the sea. Water is used to irrigate the fields of produce. Over time, this cocktail of chemicals enters our food chain. We get to eat and drink the dilute mixture of drugs.
We should be taking care of the environment because we have to keep on living in it. If we grow tolerant of the drugs that keep us safe now, they will slowly lose their effectiveness. When we need to take them for real, they may not save us. Now add in the statistics that more people fall ill through accidental poisoning, overdoses and addiction than are injured in traffic accidents. Children are particularly at risk. As parents, we used to worry about leaving children alone in the house with bottles of liquor. Now we should be worried about leaving them in the house with bottles of pills. The younger children can mistake them for candy. The older ones may be tempted to try them to see whether they get high.
Many drugs are dangerous. Some are addictive. They should be locked safely away. If they are no longer of use, they should go from our homes. The best disposal programs are run by local police forces. They provide anonymous and secure drop-boxes where people may leave drugs for collection. The best disposal method is incineration at high temperatures. Although tramadol is not usually abused and only rarely causes problems if people take too much, it should still be disposed of safely. No matter what the drug, you should not keep it where it may be a temptation to your children or family members who have problems of addiction. So, when you buy tramadol or any other drug, you should follow your doctor’s directions and take all the tablets. If you have some left over, you should ask your local police department whether it has a disposal program. Should there be nothing arranged locally, be responsible in your disposal method. Our ecology links everything together and we should be aiming to leave a safe environment for our children.