Improve Your Health

5 Tips for Safe Medication Disposal

While decluttering your home, you come across a bunch of medications you no longer use. Should you pass them along to family or friends? Toss them? Do something else with them?

When it comes to medications, you need to take extra disposal precautions. One of the most common mistakes people make with their medications is passing them along to family or friends. Doing so can actually end up doing more harm than good as only medical professionals are trained to diagnose and treat illness. Even if a person has the same diagnosis as you, there is no guarantee your prescription is the right dose for him or her.

Another reason it’s so important to properly dispose of medications is to protect the environment. Throwing medications out with the trash or dumping them down the sink can expose people, animals and plants to harmful substances.

For safe medication disposal, I recommend the following tips:

  • Follow disposal instructions – Pay attention to instructions on the medication label for the best method of disposal. For example, some medications can be safely flushed down the sink or toilet, while others will need to be taken to a special prescription drug collection site.
  • Scratch out personal information – Make sure any identifying information is scratched out to protect your identity and health information.
  • Take advantage of community medication disposal events – Most communities offer a medication pick up day twice a year. Visit the Drug Enforcement Administration website to learn more about local events.
  • Find medication collection sites – Some pharmacies offer collection boxes where you can drop off medications for disposal. One thing to keep in mind is that most primary care physician offices are not able to take back medications for disposal. So your best option is to get rid of them at a community disposal event or at a collection box.
  • Follow Food & Drug Administration recommendations – Some controlled substances can be safely flushed down the sink or toilet. To learn more, see the Food & Drug Administration’s list of medications recommended for flushing.

To learn more about proper medication disposal, contact your health insurance provider. They can point you toward community disposal events and collection sites in your area or help you find other safe disposal options.