Where to Dispose of Old Prescription Drugs

It is dangerous to leave around old prescription drugs without disposing of them. This is because it is for your personal use and might fall into the wrong hands. What is good for you might be harmful to others. 

Where Can I Dispose of My Old Prescription?

Old prescriptions left unsecured can be a danger to someone who intends to take drugs to harm themselves or “get high.” it can be dangerous for young children and pets who may not know what they’re doing. It generally poses a lot of threats. The main solution is to dispose of old prescriptions properly and as soon as possible. 

Here are some places you can dispose of old prescription drugs.

Drug Take-Back Programs

The first line of defense should be immediate disposal in a permanent drug disposal box, especially for substances with potential for misuse. There are national drug take-back programs in communities nationwide. Many communities also have take-back programs.

Check with the local authorities where you live to ask for a location near you and to get the date and time. The only issue with take-back programs is that they have specific dates, and you might need to dispose of your old prescription drugs before then. There are other options if you cannot wait for the take-back programs.

The Police Department

Your local police department most likely has a drug disposal box. You can easily go there and drop the medicine in the box and leave it. They have their way of taking care of it.


Your local pharmacy or hospital is another great place to dispose of old prescription drugs. This is because you most likely got it from there in the first place. So you can easily stop by and drop off an old prescription drug without trouble. If needed, you can also pick up the new drug that you might need.

Apart from places like this, there are other places you can dispose of old prescription drugs.

Donate Your Prescription

It is quite possible to donate your old medicine. Contact your state pharmacy board to learn more about drug donation programs. You can also contact your local animal shelter, health department, or other local organizations, such as shelters, relief agencies, or religious institutions, to see if they accept medical donations.

Before donating drugs, there are conditions to consider because if someone else has to use them, they should be in a good state. You should consider your drug for donation if it’s sealed/ unopened, unexpired, and uncontrolled. Many places have a wide range of eligibility stances before accepting drug donations.

If you have tried this and there are no options, you can consider disposing of it at home. This should be in situations where take-back options are not easily available. There are two ways of disposing of it at home.

  • Flushing down the toilet
  • Disposing of it in household trash

Flushing Down the Toilet

Some medicines are especially harmful and have specific directions to flush down the toilet when they are no longer in use. To ensure that your medicine is one of those on the flush list, check the label for instructions. If the instructions are not clear, check FDA’s Flush List for Certain Medicines.

If your medicine is not on the list, please do not flush it down the toilet or sink to avoid contaminating the water. Water contamination is very deadly because the water comes back. If there are traces of drugs in it and someone allergic to it consumes it, it can be very dangerous.

Disposing of Prescription Drugs In Household Trash

This is a good option if you cannot flush your drug down the drain. Almost all medicines can be thrown into the household trash if you follow the right steps.

  1. Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This makes the medicine less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through the trash looking for drugs.

2. Put the mixture in something you can close (a re-sealable zipper storage bag, empty can, or another container) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.

3. Throw the container in the garbage.

4. Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.

Additionally, unique drug deactivation bags are safe for the environment and render medications ineffective. They can be ordered through your neighborhood drugstore, an online merchant, or a mail-order pharmacy. While supplies last, some regional drug coalitions offer them for free. To use it

  • Put any leftover medicine in the pouch. Each bag may deactivate six patches, six ounces of liquid, or 45 tablets.
  • Wait 30 seconds after filling it halfway with warm tap water.
  • Place the pouch in the garbage after sealing and shake it lightly.

Tips and Precautions

1. Drugs are very harmful substances; be careful with how you handle them.

2. To avoid hoarding drugs you might not need, avoid getting drugs you might not use.

3. Be absolutely sure that there are no takeback programs before deciding to dispose of drugs at home.

4. Be very careful that your drugs do not get into the wrong hands

5. If you have any questions or doubts, ask your pharmacy or health care provider

Bottom Line

It’s crucial to dispose of unused medications properly. Children and animals are particularly in danger from taking these medications. If people overuse or accidentally take medications, they can be dangerous and even lethal.

The easiest way to get rid of medicine is to either bring it to a designated drop-off location or have a professional waste handler pick it up from your home.

You may also want to see other guides we’ve put together on how to dispose of hazardous waste

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