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Safe Medicine Disposal Protects the Environment

Along with protecting your family, safe medicine disposal protects the environment.

We’ve all been told that flushing medications down the toilet or emptying them in the kitchen sink is a safe way to keep unused and unneeded medications out of the hands of children or mouths of pets.

However, the FDA recommends flushing only a handful of medications (that list can be found here).  The FDA recommends flushing these medications because they can be extremely harmful or even fatal if taken by someone who does not need them.

What Are My Safe Medicine Disposal Options?

The easiest and safest way to dispose of unused medications is to use a local medicine take-back program like the one offered at Advance ER.  These DEA-authorized collectors take the precautions necessary to safely and securely collect and dispose of prescription medications.

Another option is to purchase a medication mail-back pack.  Walgreens, Rite Aid and Safeway sell prepaid mail packs.  You then take the pre-addressed mailer home to fill it up with your unused medications, drop it in the mailbox and you’re done.  Note that due to Federal regulations, controlled substances cannot be disposed of in this way.

If you’d rather dispose of your medications at home, the DEA recommends taking these simple steps to ensure your medications are disposed of safely:

  1. Mix medicines with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds. Do not crush tablets or capsules.
  2. Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag or old coffee can.
  3. Throw the container in your household trash.
  4. Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of the container in your recycling bin.

Ensuring you properly dispose of your medications ensures harmful chemicals are kept out of the water system.  For more information about drug disposal laws, regulations and tips, visit the DEA website for Diversion Control.