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Published on April 17, 2017

How to Safely Dispose of Prescription Drugs

How to Safely Dispose of Prescription Drugs

Medications are important in the treatment of illness. When left sitting around unused, prescription drugs can also pose a significant danger. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 93 percent of all unintentional poisoning deaths are from medications or other drugs.

When prescription drugs are no longer needed, you need to dispose of them in a safe manner. The best way to do this is by taking them to a prescription drop box or other medication take-back program in your area.

If there are no take-back programs in your area, and there are no specific disposal instructions on the label, you can follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the household trash:

  1. Take the medicines out of the bottles
  2. Do not flush down the toilet
  3. Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with unappealing substances such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds;
  4. Seal the mixture in a disposable bag and throw away.
  5. Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of it.

NC Prescription Drug Infographic

Download infographic here.