Our Blog

old medication

How to Dispose of Old Medication

If you have a supply of possibly dangerous medications, you can play a role in curbing our national prescription drug abuse epidemic by learning how to manage them safely. That means taking steps to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands, including storing them in a secure location and responsibly disposing of any unused portions.

Why Do You Need to Get Rid of Old Medications?

Your old or expired medication may once have been beneficial for you, but it can still pose a significant health and safety issue if children, pets or other adults living in your household accidentally ingest it. Some drugs – such as prescription painkillers containing fentanyl – are potent enough to cause harmful or fatal side effects in trace amounts. Others, like opioids and tranquilizers, have a high potential for addiction after only a short period of use.

If you are cleaning out your medicine cabinet and find an unused prescription or over-the-counter medication, you can contact your physician or pharmacist and ask them how to dispose of it. Another option for getting rid of old medications is to find a drug take-back location near you, which may be a location like a pharmacy or police station where someone will correctly destroy your remaining supply. Call the DEA Diversion Control Division Registration Call Center at 800-882-9539 to learn more about these collection sites.

How to Dispose of Old Medications at Home

What can you do if there is no drug take-back program in your area? You may have heard that the best way to get rid of unwanted or unnecessary medicine is to flush it down the toilet, but before you do so, double-check that the drugs are on the FDA’s “flush list.”

You can throw away drugs that are not safe to flush down the toilet by following these steps.

  • Take the medications out of their original containers and combine them with something unpleasant, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. The goal is to conceal the drugs from anyone who might purposely go through your trash looking for them.
  • Place the mixture in a sealable container to prevent spills or leaks, then throw it out.
  • To protect your privacy, remove any identifying details from the empty prescription bottles before putting them in the trash or recycling bin.

Tips for Keeping Medicine Away From Children

Thousands of families experience terrifying medical emergencies each year because their children managed to find and take incorrectly stored medicine. It only takes a few heartbeats for a curious child to get into something they shouldn’t.

To prevent this crisis, identify a spot in your home that is out of sight and out of reach, and keep all medications there – even vitamins, herbal supplements and non-prescription drugs like ibuprofen. Colorful pills might resemble candy to a young child, so if you have children, never leave medications sitting out on a bedside table or in a pill organizer.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

Prescription painkillers, stimulants and tranquilizers can be dangerous when used incorrectly or irresponsibly. Even if you have a legitimate medical reason for taking these drugs, you might still develop a physical and psychological dependence on them. At Vista Taos, we are here to help people reclaim their lives and break the cycle of substance abuse. For details about admissions and what we offer, contact us today.

Share this post