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How to Dispose of Prescription Drugs

For drugs not labeled for flushing, follow these steps:

Take medication out of its original container and pour it into a sealable plastic bag. If medication is a solid (pill, liquid capsule, etc.), add water to dissolve it.

Add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds (or any material that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for pets and children to eat) to the plastic bag.

Seal the plastic bag and put it in the trash.

Remove and destroy all identifying personal information (prescription label) from all medication containers before recycling them or throwing them away.

For more on disposing of other bathroom products, see Medicine Cabinet Clean Out
For more on prescription drug dangers: The Second Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. and 10 Common Medication Mistakes That Can Kill. Also see FDA: Popular Diabetes Drug Linked to Heart Attacks

Read more: Diabetes, General Health, Household Hints, Nature & Wildlife, News & Issues, Safety, , , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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8:16AM PST on Dec 31, 2013

I have a large vitamin bottle in which I put all my unused and/or expired meds in and then when it's full, I take it to my pharmacy. THEY have hazardous material containers in which they place THEIR medical/pharmaceutical "waste" That way I feel I have safely gotten rid of all medications I cannot or did not use! That goes for over the counter medications too, by the way.

Of course, while I'm filling the bottle, I store it in a safe place, away from animals, children or anyone who COULD be looking to "score drugs" feel this is one of the absolute BEST ways to get rid of those types of items and not have to worry about them!

4:55AM PST on Dec 31, 2013

You say put coffee grounds, cat litter. sawdust in the bag... you neglect to say they should be USED coffee grounds, USED cat litter, WET Sawdust. They have to make the meds unusable. People go through the garbage to get those meds.. they have be deterred. Plane dry coffee grounds, dry cat litter and dry sawdust do nothing.

11:22PM PST on Dec 30, 2013

great to know!

8:32AM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

thanks for sharing

9:00AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

Thank you

1:15PM PST on Jan 9, 2012

Thanks for the insight on disposing of drugs. Many people do not finish all their meds. I just pulled about 8 bottles out of my medicine cabinet yesterday & wondered what to do with them. Now I have some options. Thanks again.

7:46PM PST on Jan 5, 2012

Great article!

3:04PM PST on Jan 4, 2012

Thank you so much for this very important info!

2:45PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Thank you for posting this extremely important information, Melissa. I have read that frogs are having trouble mating because estrogen in birth control pills gets in water and they all end up female! Makes you wonder if this is part of the reason so many boys are "feminized" and men have ED, but many poisons and drugs could do this.

10:22AM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

This is one of those areas that many do not think about but is very important. Thanks for getting the information out to more people.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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