How to Get Rid of Prescription Drugs

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Improper disposal of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can have negative effects on the environment. For example, trace amounts of flushed medications have been known to turn up in local waterways and, in some cases, in household tap water. On the other hand, unused drugs that are kept around the house can put youngsters and pets at risk of accidental poisoning from ingestion. If you have unused drugs you need to throw out, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends disposing of them in a way that will not put the environment, children and animals at risk.

Things You'll Need

  • Coffee grounds
  • Empty food bowls/bags
  • Remove the drugs from the containers in which they came.

  • Mix the drugs in with used coffee grounds. If no coffee grounds are available, you can also mix the drugs with kitty litter.

  • Place the drug mixture into a sealed container. Empty butter and sour cream tubs, or used freezer bags work well for this purpose.

  • Remove or obscure all of your personal information from the label on the original prescription container, and toss the container in with the drugs.

  • Throw the container into the trash and dispose of your trash as you normally would.

Tips & Warnings

  • Read the materials that came with your prescription to see if there are disposal instructions. While most drugs can be safely thrown away using the steps above, the FDA has recommended flushing for a few specific drugs.
  • Contact your city or county waste management service to find out if there are drug take-back programs in your area.
  • Dispose of drugs immediately after mixing them with coffee grounds or cat litter. Do not store the mixture for future disposal, as this can pose a risk to youngsters in the home who may get into the mixture.
  • Do not ingest prescription or OTC drugs after the expiration date. Drugs can become weakened over time, which can adversely affect treatment of some medical conditions.
  • Do not toss pills directly into the trash without first sealing them into an impermeable container. Loose pills can break down and release drugs into the environment. In some cases, animals can also get into the trash and ingest these drugs.

References

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