How to Safely Dispose of Drugs

DEA Drug Take Back Day 10/23/2021

Do you have expired or unwanted medications in your home? Protect your family against the misuse of prescription drugs by practicing proper disposal of unwanted medications. Proper disposal of medications can save lives and also protects the environment.

The safest way to dispose of your medicine is to drop them off through a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) drug take back program, or dispose at home. Before disposing of prescription medicines, be sure to remove all personal information on prescription bottle labels and medicine packaging. Your medications will be destroyed after drop off.

Drug Take Back Events

Search by zip code or city/state to find a year-round DEA collection site near you. For more information about a collection site, call the DEA Diversion Control Division Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539.

On October 23th, 2021, the DEA is hosting a National Prescription Drug Take Back event. On this Drug Take Back Day, temporary drug collection sites will be set up in communities nationwide for safe disposal of prescription drugs. Visit here for more information.  

Dispose Medications at Home

When a take back option is not easily available, you can dispose of unused medications at home. Follow these steps to safely dispose of your medications.

  • Take your prescription drugs out of their containers. Mix pills or liquids with an unpleasant substance, such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds. Do not crush pills.
  • Put the mixture in a container, such as a sealable plastic bag.
  • Throw the container away in your trash at home.
  • Scratch out all personal information, including Rx numbers, on the prescription labels of empty medication bottles or packaging, then throw them away or recycle them.

Some medications have specific disposal instructions. Check the FDA's flush list to see if your medicine is on the list.

Guidelines for appropriate disposal of medications can be found at: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/where-and-how-dispose-unused-medicines