Safe Disposal of Medication

Critics focus on the role that prescription medications play in the opioid epidemic. And it’s hard to argue with them when 80 percent of people who are addicted to heroin started with prescription opioids.

Many of those 80 percent got their first dose of prescription opioids from their families’ medicine cabinets. In addition, accidental exposure to medication is a major source of unintentional poisonings. Therefore, it is important that you dispose of unused or expired medications as safely as possible.

prescription drug disposal

Many pharmacies and police departments host take back days for safe disposal of medication. Oldham County usually holds an annual drug take-back event in the fall. As well, the La Grange Police Department has a permanent prescription drug drop off box ​in the lobby that is available for use during office hours. Call 225-0444 for more information about medication disposal in Oldham County.

Search for other authorized permanent collection sites in your community or DEA-registered collectors on the Diversion Control Division’s website.

If a collector is not available near you, the next best option is to use Deterra Drug Deactivation packets. Deterra packets deactivate drugs so they can be safely thrown away. Finally, if you cannot locate a safe disposal location or Deterra packets, you can dispose of medication in the trash.

In order to do so safely, follow these simple steps: Mix the medications with an unappealing substance such as dirt or coffee grounds, place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag, throw the container in the trash, and scratch all of your personal information off the prescription label. Some medications will instruct you to flush them down the toilet, while others are potentially harmful to the environment. Always read the instructions on the prescription label.

As a general rule, take inventory of medication in your home every six months. This will allow you to keep track of what medicine you should have and identify when medicine has gone missing. Also, check the expiration date on the bottle or package of your medications. Don’t take medications that are expired, and don’t take medications that appear discolored or compromised. Dispose of them immediately.

prescription drug disposal

Written by Alex Elswick, Extension Specialist for Substance Use Prevention and Recovery.

Copyright © 2020 for materials developed by University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. This publication may be reproduced in portions or its entirety for educational or nonprofit purposes only. Permitted users shall give credit to the author(s) and include this copyright notice.

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