Why and How to Safely Dispose of Unused Medications

Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time began by using a prescription drug for non medical purposes.  Research shows that more than 60 percent of Americans prescribed opioid painkillers reported keeping leftover medication in their home medicine cabinet long after ending use. It’s not hard to make the connection to where youth might be finding these prescription drugs.

Dispose of Your Unused Prescriptions

Unused or expired prescription medications at home are a public safety issue and can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose, and abuse. Unused prescriptions thrown in the trash can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold. The misuse and abuse of over-the-counter medications, illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans.

Removing unwanted or expired medications from the medicine cabinet is an easy and concrete step that everyone can take to make a difference in preventing drug abuse.

Prescription Take Back Days and Locations

Prescription drug take back days are great times to dispose of these medications.  Visit the TakeBackDay website  to find the next date. Or you can visit the DEA website to find a list of locations near your zipcode for controlled substance disposal locations nearest you.  (Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds — many times your local drugstore will accept unwanted prescriptions for disposal.)

Deterra Pouch: Drug Disposal Pouches

Fortunately, we have a new tool to safely dispose of our unwanted medications!  The Deterra pouch!  In a simple 3-step process, a user can deactivate drugs, thereby preventing drug misuse and protecting the environment.   Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) Indiana is providing this new tool in the effort to fight the opioid crisis in Allen County. Earlier this month, RALI Indiana announced the donation of 15,000 safe drug disposal kits to various groups and coalitions in northeast Indiana that will allow Hoosiers to easily and safely dispose of unwanted and unused prescription medication.

Other Ways to Dispose of Medications

You can also use cat litter or old coffee grounds to dispose of some old medications.  Mix your drugs with either of these household products, seal them in an airtight container and throw it in the garbage.  If you use this method, please first call the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), to ensure your drugs can be disposed of this way as some medicines may require a different approach.

IDEM: (800) 988-7901, M-F, 8-4:30

Not Ready to Dispose of your Medications?

Be sure to safely store your prescription medications in locked or secure places and out of reach of children.  Have a conversation with family about the dangers or misusing prescription medication.  Never share medications with family members.


Get Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of distress, please reach out to a mental health professional or get confidential, free support and text LOOKUP to 494949.

If you live in Indiana and need help finding a behavioral health provider, visit Find Help or call (800) 284-8439.

Start the conversation.  Silence the Stigma. 

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