How to Dispose of Prescription Medication near you

Let’s face it, you probably have a medicine cabinet full to the brim with those orange translucent pill bottles. The ones with the expiration date from the early 00’s that was given to you or a family member to help dull the pain from that surgery?


Most Americans have a type of procrastination when it comes to properly dispose of prescription drugs. The last place you set down the prescription bottle is usually where they stay, often for years! It is our natural inclination to keep something around because it may be useful later on. Especially if procuring a new prescription requires an inconvenience or cost. As a collective society, we don’t throw something away because it could be useful, but then immediately forget, because it has no current use.

It is in these unattended medicine cabinets where people experimenting may happen upon what seems like an innocuous dose of medication but can become a life-altering addiction. It is also a place where people in active addiction can rummage through to support their dependence on drugs.

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The DEA’s annual ‘Take Back Day’ is a bi-yearly program that was created as an addition to the “Controlled Substances Act.” It allows people to give old prescriptions back to law enforcement and community pharmacy’s with a ‘no questions asked’ system. It is designed to ensure that the public is properly disposing of expired or unused prescriptions.

This program has successfully removed 475 tons of prescription drugs off of the market, They currently have over 6,000 drop off locations. To find your nearest location,  check out these DEA ‘Take Back Day’ drop off locations

Though it may be an inconvenience, disposing of your unwanted prescriptions via a “Take Back” program is the best option to keep your loose prescriptions out of the hands of children.

Too far from a drop off location?

For some, a drop off location is not the most convenient. Consider trying this method of disposing of your undesired prescriptions.

Mix- Mix your unwanted prescriptions (without crushing the tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable product like coffee ground, kitty litter or dirt.


Place- Place that mixture into a zip lock bag.


Throw-Throw the zip lock bag into the household trash.


Scratch Out- Take a black sharpie and cross out all of your personal information on the prescription bottle. Then, recycle the container.

Mix, Place, Throw, Scrach Out

One popular method, that is often characterized in TV shows and movies, is to screw off the top and dump your unused prescriptions into the toilet.


You should never dispose of your prescriptions into the plumbing system. Antidepressants, sedatives, antibiotics, painkillers and anti-cancer drugs, to name a few, can lech into the watershed affecting the local marine life. The marine life’s daily habitat, reproduction, growth and development are all affected by medications that are flushed. It is a misconception that water treatment facilities and septic tanks can properly filter out prescription contaminants.


The best way of disposing of your unwanted prescriptions is a “Take Back” program. Make it your first and best option.


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