How to Dispose of Prescription Pills

Written by melissaw
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How to Dispose of Prescription Pills
Learn the right way to dispose of prescription drugs. (drugs image by alimat from

Many of the prescription drugs sitting in your medicine cabinet unused can simply be disposed of in the trash. For others, however, specific disposal methods are necessary, according to the Food and Drug Administration. It's important to dispose of prescription pills properly so that they don't get in the wrong hands. You don't want children and family pets to get a hold of your medication. Some medications can harm the environment as well.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Kitty litter
  • Used coffee grinds
  • Sealed container

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  1. 1

    Check any special labels or packaging with your prescription drugs to see if they include instructions for getting rid of prescription pills. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless packaging with the drugs says to do so.

  2. 2

    Dispose of your pills in the trash when the packaging tells you to do so, but take special precautions. When putting your pills in the trash, add something undesirable such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds. Put the mixture in a sealed bag or other protective container so the contents don't leak out. This makes the pills less desirable for children and pets, and to people who may go through your trash.

  3. 3

    Search for community take-back programs where you can properly dispose of prescription pills. Find these programs by calling your city's trash or recycling departments. When you bring the prescriptions to the take-back programs, the city will dispose of them properly.

Tips and warnings

  • Scratch out any identifying information on your prescription pills that may give away your identity. This will protect you and the privacy of your health information.
  • Keep your prescription pills to yourself. Only a doctor can prescribe medication and they do so for a reason or a certain condition you may have. Do not give medication to family and friends.

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