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Tom French, PhD

My Aunt passed away recently. How do I dispose of her meds?

Do not flush! Instead, dispose of the medications in the trash as follows:

    1. Take unused, unneeded or expired medicines out of their original containers. Mix them with an undesirable substance like kitty litter or used coffee grounds.
    2. Remove or destroy all identifying personal information, including prescription number, on the empty medicine container labels. You can destroy personal information by covering with black permanent marker or by scratching it off.
    3. Wrap the medication mixture and the empty containers in newspaper to help conceal them and place them in the trash.
    4. Be sure to keep children or pets away from the trash before it is picked up and hauled away.

For more information on the proper disposal of household medications, visit and

What is the best way to eliminate alcohol from the body?

Not take too much in to begin with. After that, it is just time; the enzymes in the body have to break it down and that can’t be rushed. In an average person the blood level goes down 0.015 per hour.

Can birth control clear up acne? Why?

For some kinds of acne, in at least some women, birth control pills can help clear acne. Three different brands have been approved for this use. Go to for more information.

Why is Accutane so bad for you?

No one knows the mechanisms of action of this drug, which affects all body systems. It should be reserved for only the most severe cystic acne, and prescribed by a dermatologist experienced in its use and side effects.

What happens if you take Viagra (sildenafil) if you don't need it? Like if you are twenty?

Here’s part of the message from the National Institutes of Health on Viagra: “Some patients experienced a sudden loss of some or all of their vision after they took sildenafil or other medications that are similar to sildenafil. The vision loss was permanent in some cases.” You want to experiment? Don’t!

What is the best drug to clear up acne?

Your doctor (or the dermatologist he refers you to) can answer what treatment plan is best for you.

Can you overdose on birth control pills?

Fatal overdose would be very rare, but there can be bad symptoms including excessive bleeding. The NIH suggests you call poison control for instructions, and there is a special confidential number you can call. See .

Can a person become addicted to marijuana?

Yes, it now seem that you can be addicted, not just habituated. For some it can be as hard to get off of as tobacco, which is VERY hard!

Can marijuana be good for you? Can it affect your body or lungs?

The reason it got legalized in Colorado is that it has been reported to help some people with chronic pain, or the eye disease called glaucoma. In both cases there are better drugs, without all the illegal-ish hoopla. But if you smoke it, it is smoking; and we know the smoke contains carcinogens.

Why if you eat a pack of cigarettes the nicotine can kill you, but smoking that pack does not have the same effect?

I doubt it would kill you, but you’d get a dose of nicotine all at once that would make you good and sick. One Nicorette gum has the nicotine of about 2-3 cigarettes.

What is the difference between tobacco that is in cigarettes, for pipe smoking, and in chew?

No one knows, as the chew and pipe tobaccos are not classified as drugs and the tobacco companies do not have to reveal what they put in there. Pipe tobacco is a lot harsher than cigarette tobacco, as you are not supposed to inhale.

Is there a receptor for marijuana in the brain? If so, what is its function?

There are receptors for chemicals the brain itself makes, and some of these are associated with pleasure, such as when you have a good meal, or something makes you happy. Some plants have evolved the ability to make compounds that can stimulate these receptors; those include the opium poppy and marijuana. People think they were selected to do this because they affected the behaviors of animals that fed on the plants, in ways that were good for the plant’s survival.