Proper Disposal of Unwanted Medication

Properly disposing of unwanted, unused, or expired medications can help prevent abuse and promote safe use. There are safe ways of discarding medications at home, as well as collection sites for individuals to safely drop off their unwanted medications.

Collection Sites

To find the year-round collection site or drop-off location nearest you, click here.

The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) also hosts “Take Back Days”, usually twice a year in April and October. During these events, many local police or sheriff’s departments will accept medications for disposal. To find out when the next DEA Take-Back Day is scheduled, click here.

Disposal at Home

While drop-off locations should be considered first, at-home medication disposal may be necessary. Please follow these steps when attempting to dispose of medications at home:

  • Check for any discard instructions on the medication bottle or label.
  • Some medications may need to be flushed if there are no take-back options available in the area
  • Consult the FDA Flush List for a list of medications that should be flushed:

If the medication does not require flushing and there are no take-back options available, you may:

  • Mix medicines (liquid or pills; do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds;
  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
  • Throw away the container in your trash at home; and
  • Delete all personal information on the prescription label of empty medicine bottles or medicine packaging, then trash or recycle the empty bottle or packaging.

For more information on the safe disposal of medications, please check with your local pharmacist or you can find more detailed information on the FDA website.