Do you have prescriptions drugs that are long past their expiration date?
If you have a drawer, cabinet, or shoe box overflowing with expired prescriptions,
now is the time to clean it out. However, before you throw medications
into the trash, it’s important to know the correct way to dispose
of them. Follow these tips to ensure your old medicine is tossed safely.
Tip #1: Hide Medications Before Throwing Them Away
You don’t want anyone else to access medicine your doctor has prescribed.
If you toss unused drugs into the wastebasket, there is a risk that someone
else might find them and take them. Lower the chances of that happening
by sealing the medicine bottle in a leak-proof container like a coffee
can. Throw it out as close to trash pick-up day as possible.
Tip #2: Remove or Scratch All Labels off Prescription Bottles
Your personal information is on prescription bottles, so don’t risk
your identity being stolen by leaving the label on discarded drugs. Rip
off the labels or use a pen or permanent marker to scratch them out.
Tip #3: Find Local Area Programs That Dispose of Medications
Many communities have “take-back programs” to collect expired
medication. This is great for people who have a large quantity of medications
to get rid of. Call your local law enforcement agency or waste management
department to see if there is a drug disposal program in your area.
Tip #4: Contact the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
The DEA sets up drug take-back days where authorized collectors around
the nation make it easy for people to drop off old prescriptions. This
usually happens at pharmacies, hospitals, drug stores, and clinics. Contact
your local DEA office for more information. If there are no drop-off events
scheduled in your area, you mail be able to find out how to mail in your
Tip #5: Do Not Flush Medications
Flushing medications down the toilet can lead to drug residues in rivers
and lakes, which can then get into drinking water.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.