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Practicing Proper Disposal of Prescription Medications

Practicing Proper Disposal of Prescription Medications

October 2, 2019

Although you may not consider it often, properly disposing of your unused or unwanted prescription medications is very important. Disposing of prescription drugs goes a long way toward eliminating the possibility of family members or others removing your drugs from a medicine cabinet with the intent to misuse or abuse them. Among adolescents 12 and older who report using pain medication, an estimated 70% obtained them from a relative or friend’s medicine cabinet. According to the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”), 91 people die every day from opioid overdose.

Safe removal of unwanted medicine protects you and others, especially children and pets in your home, from accidental use. Children are especially vulnerable to poisoning in the home. In fact, according to the CDC and Prevention, more than 60,000 young children visit the emergency room each year because they got into medicines while their parents or caregivers were not looking.

There are a number of ways to safely dispose of prescription medications:

  • Drop Boxes- These can be found at local pharmacies, police precincts, and other law enforcement agencies. New York State residents can find out more about these locations by visiting this website link: (
  • Community Collection Events– Some municipalities offer pharmaceutical collection events in partnership with local law enforcement. You can contact your municipality for more information.
  • DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day– The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s (“DEA”) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is usually held twice a year (in April and October). For information on dates and locations, visit this website link: (
  • Pre-Addressed Envelopes- Check with your local pharmacy about pre-addressed envelopes used to mail in unwanted medications for safe disposal.

Alternative ways to safely dispose of prescription medication:

  • Mix unwanted medication (do not crush tablets or capsules) with water and salt, ashes, dirt, cat litter, coffee grounds, or another undesirable material, to avoid accidental or intentional misuse of the medication.
  • Conceal medications in a container, such as sealable bag, box, or plastic tub, and bind with a strong tape to prevent discovery and removal from the trash.
  • Dispose of unwanted medication as close to your trash collection day as possible to avoid misuse.

For more information regarding the proper disposal of prescription medication, you can visit the following websites: