Safely disposing of old medication has become increasingly important in recent years. Not only is there the threat of young children getting their hands on medicine that is casually thrown in the trash, but prescription drug abuse among teens or even tweens is becoming increasingly common. On top of this, our water supplies are growing ever more contaminated with prescription drugs, whose small molecules can slip right through water filtration systems. Given these risks, it’s important that parents take steps to properly dispose of medication:
Drug recycling programs
As a first option, we would recommend that parents take old medication to a drug recycling disposal program. These are usually held at local pharmacies. The drugs will either be recycled if possible or disposed of in a manner that keeps them out of the water supply. You can search for “drug take-back programs” in your local area at fda.gov.
If you are unable to get to a drug disposal program, follow the guidelines below to properly dispose of medications.
Properly disposing of medication
It is no longer recommended that parents flush medication. This medicine then ends up in the sewer and gets recirculated throughout the water supply. Instead…
- Take drugs out of their original container and put them in something that can be tightly sealed, such as a coffee can or sturdy bag.
- Mix the drugs with a substance such as kitty litter, sawdust, dirt, or old coffee grounds – anything that would make the medication unpalatable. Seal this substance in a baggie and put it in the trash. It’s better for medication to end up in the land fill, because even if they eventually seep into the water supply, it is likely to take longer, thus degrading the active ingredients along the way.
- Scratch out any identifying labels on the original package before throwing away the empty container.