The Importance of Discarding Old Prescription Drugs

Do Not Leave Old Medications Laying Around

Pharmacies dispense an estimated 215 million prescription drugs yearly, a massive quantity that can provide each individual in the U.S. with an entire bottle of pills. A large percentage of individuals who have been prescribed these painkillers and other narcotic drugs report not using the majority of the pills as their pain has dissipated. Properly disposing of these hardcore drugs is of extreme importance as they can easily get into the hands of curious children and consumed.

Instead of storing your old prescription medication in a drawer, the fridge, or the bathroom cabinet, properly dispose of them the right way. If you have old medications that you are unsure of what to do with, there are several ways in which to handle them.

  • Securely Store Them

Did you know that tens of thousands of yearly emergency hospital visits are a result of children consuming medications unintentionally? Even medications that you feel post no harm such as Acedamiephan, cough syrup, or Ibuprofen can have detrimental effects on young children. Drugs such as OxyContine can be life-threatening if consumed by children. Storing these medications in a safe or in a child-proof cabinet can prevent them from being exposed to these medications.

  • Disposing of Unused Medications

If you are prescribed medication and you do not finish the entire prescription, properly disposing of them is important. The DEA will take back any unused prescription medication at thousands of sites across the nation. If your medication is expired, unused, or unwanted, it’s important that you make the effort to return them. Simply tossing them away in the garbage should never be done as kids can easily get a hold of them. You can also dispose of these medications in a public disposal location that is close to you.

Many local pharmacies across the nation are also beginning to accept old prescription medication. Check your local pharmacy in order to see if they accept these prescription medications.

Disposing Medications in the Garbage

There is the option to dispose of prescription medication in your own garbage reciprocal as well. There are certain steps that should be followed. Some protocols to adhere to are:

  • Remove the pills from their containers and blend them in with something such as coffee grounds, cat litter, or sand. This sort of disguises the pills and makes them much less appealing to others such as children and even pets and outside animals. If someone were to go through the garbage looking for drugs, they would more than likely look past the cat litter concealing the drugs.
  • Pour the mixture into a sealable bag or container so that it does not spill out anywhere.
  • Place the sealed container in the garbage.
  • Take the original container and be sure to peel off the label or draw over it with a permanent marker. This will hide their personal information as well as the drug information from being leaked to the public.  

Taking these precautions will ensure that your medications are disposed of in a safe manner and out of the hands of others.  


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.