How Do Good Medicines Become Bad Drugs?

Good medicines become bad drugs when they are used inappropriately. Prevention starts at home.

Safety at Home

When there are unused, unwanted, or expired medicines in your home, anyone who has access may be at risk for inappropriate use, or the medicines may fall into the wrong hands, resulting in potentially dangerous situations and behaviors.

What You Can Do

Not only is it critical for all of us to dispose of prescription medicines before they can be used inappropriately, but we must also ensure that our methods of disposal are safe and appropriate.

Many community pharmacies will accept and safely dispose most of your unwanted prescription medicines. Other locations, including police stations, will also accept them.

Depending on the type of medicine, flushing it down the toilet or including it in your household trash may be acceptable, but this is not the case for most medicines.

Check out the instructions on prescription drug disposal from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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Check the expiration date on
your prescription medicine.


Check if your pharmacy or local
government has a medicine take-back
program. If so, take your expired
medication to them.

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Certain medicines are to be flushed
down the toilet, and some or not.
Check if your medication is on the list,
and then flush to dispose.


If not on the list above, remove your
expired or unwanted medicine from the bottle without crushing then and place in a plastic bag.

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Add used coffee grounds, kitty litter,
or some other unappealing substance
to the bag.


Put the bag in your trash can.

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Scratch out all identifying
information on the label before
disposing your medicine bottle.

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