How can you safely dispose of medicines?

Professional Further Education in Clinical Pha...

Professional Further Education in Clinical Pharmacy and Public Health (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pharmaceutical companies have grown exponentially, which means there must be more medicine floating around out there. Chances are, not all of it gets used before it expires – either because your problem was solved before you used them all or – maybe, maybe, maybe – you forgot where you put the meds, so you had to buy more, therefore you have extras hiding in strange places.


Whatever the case, the worst thing you could do to get rid of the medicine is flush it down the toilet or rinse it down the garbage disposal. Both of these methods end up dumping your medicine in the water system. Instead, consider one of these other choices:


Find an Environmentally-Friendly Pharmacy

You can check with your “regular” pharmacy to see if they offer a disposal program. If they don’t, search to find a participating pharmacy near you.


MacGyver the Meds

If you have to dispose of medications on your own, you have two goals:

  1. Keep them out of the water system
  2. Avoid digestion by others

If you have pills, mix them with something inedible like kitty litter or coffee grounds in a container or bag that will be difficult to open. Dilute bottles of liquid with water, and tape the caps shut. Deposit the containers in the trash.


Let the DEA Do the Dirty Work

The DEA offers two collection days per year, usually the last Saturdays in April and October. To find a participating drop-off location, check their website. This particular page on their website times out, so you just need to click on “Start Over” and type in your zip code. The next collection is April 28, 2012.

About Helene Segura

Helene Segura teaches go-getters how to use their time more efficiently in order to have a more peaceful life. For details about her, be sure to visit

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