Safe Medication Disposal

Medications that are safe for you may be harmful to someone else. Unneeded, unused, and expired medications should be disposed of as soon as possible. This is especially important for controlled substance medications to avoid accidental poisoning, misuse, or abuse. The best way to dispose of most types of medications is to take them to a local Drug Take Back Site or Program.

Drug Take Back Sites

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its partners collect and safely dispose of medications as a service to communities. To find drug take back sites nearest you, visit the website below and enter your location:

You can also call your pharmacy or local law enforcement (non-emergency number) for a safe medication disposal site near you. Some pharmacies offer on-site medicine drop-off boxes, mail-back programs, and other ways to help you dispose of your unused medications.

Drug Take Back Programs

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sponsors National Prescription Drug Take Back Days in communities nationwide, usually in April and October. Many communities also have their own drug take back programs. Local Law Enforcement officials and pharmacies are a good source of information on Take Back Days. More information is available online at:

How to Dispose of Medicines at Home

When a take back option is not readily available, two options of disposing medications at home are:

  • Flush the Medication down a sink or toilet if the drug is on the FDA Flush List – available online at:
  • Trash Disposal if the drug is not on the FDA Flush List follow these steps:
    1. Remove medication labels to protect your personal information
    2. Mix medications with undesirable substances, such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds
    3. Place mixture in a sealed container, such as a re-sealable zipper bag or empty can

More information on the safe disposal of medications is available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services online at: Other options may be available for safe disposal of medications, such as Disposal Packets and addressed envelopes for mailing. Ask your pharmacist or other health care provider for more information.