Disposing of drugs safely is one way to prevent misuse and abuse. Search the Drug Disposal Locator Tool for permanent drug disposal boxes in your area.
Old prescriptions left unsecured in the home can often be an easy source for someone thinking about abusing prescription medications and can pose danger to pets or children who may accidentally ingest them. They can also be confusing for elderly people who may have multiple prescriptions.
Throwing old pills in the trash is often not the safest way to dispose of old medication and flushing may contaminate the water supply.
So how do you dispose of old medication safely?
Your community may have permanent drug disposal boxes at the following locations:
- Police departments
- Pharmacies, including independent and chains
- Fire stations
- Municipal buildings
In addition, DEA has a National Take Back Day biannually where temporary disposal sites are set up across the nation. Some retail pharmacies also offer a free powder product that, when mixed with warm water and prescription pills, will become a solid that can be safely thrown in the trash.
Print this flyer to spread the word about safe drug disposal in your community.
Learn more about ways to spread the word about the safe disposal of unused opioids using FDA’s toolkit, which includes public service announcements, social media posts, fact sheets, and more.
At-Home Medication Disposal Guidelines
The first line of defense should be immediate disposal in a permanent drug disposal box, especially for substances with potential for abuse. If you’re unsure about what to do or don’t have access to a permanent disposal box in your area, read the guidelines below.
1. Check the label for any disposal instructions.
2. While flushing is not recommended in most cases, some medications need to be flushed if no take-back options are immediately available in your area.
3. If your medication does not have special instructions, such as flushing, and you don’t have take-back options available in your area, mix the leftover medication with an undesirable substance, such as dirt, coffee grounds, or cat litter, and put it in a sealable bag, can, or container. Dispose of it in the trash.
4. If disposing of sharps, place them immediately in a disposal container obtained through a local pharmacy, medical supply company, or your healthcare provider. If you cannot obtain an FDA-cleared container, use a heavy-duty plastic household container, such as a laundry detergent container. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how to dispose of the container in your community.
Contact your state board of pharmacy or pharmacist for additional questions about disposal regulation in your state. More detail on safe drug disposal can be found on the FDA website.
If you’d like to add a permanent disposal location to the drug disposal locator database, email this form to info@AWARErx.pharmacy. If you’d like to set up a collection box, visit the DEA website.