It’s not uncommon to have over-the-counter or prescription medications at home that you no longer use. Maybe the medication has expired, your prescription has changed or you simply no longer need it. It’s important that you dispose of your medication properly. Improper medication disposal can harm the environment. It can also be a safety concern for children and pets or if found or consumed by someone who would misuse it. Keep reading to learn how to safely dispose of medication.

Follow Label Instructions

Follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information that accompanies the medication. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.

Community Drug Take-Back Programs

Take advantage of community drug take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Call your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service to see if a takeback program is available in your community. The Drug Enforcement Administration, working with state and local law enforcement agencies, sponsors National Prescription Drug Take Back Days throughout the United States.

Household Trash

If no instructions are given on the drug label and no takeback program is available in your area, throw the drugs in the household trash, but first:

  • Take them out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, like used coffee grounds or kitty litter. The medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash.
  • Put them in a sealable bag, empty can or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of the garbage bag.

Additional Tips to Safely Dispose of Medication

  • Before throwing out a medicine container, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.
  • Do not give medications to friends. Doctors prescribe drugs based on a person’s specific symptoms and medical history. A drug that works for you could be dangerous for someone else.
  • The same disposal methods for prescription drugs could apply to over-the-counter drugs as well.
  • If you have questions about how to properly dispose of your medication, talk to your Alphascript pharmacist.