Safe Disposal of Controlled Substances

It is very important to safely and properly dispose of unused or expired medications. The resources listed below provide important information about safe medication disposal in your community.

Safe Disposal Saves Lives and the Environment

The two safest medication disposal methods are:

  • Permanent Disposal Bins: Permanent community collection sites are located in pharmacies and law enforcement agencies across the state.
  • Community Take-Back Events: Prescription Drug Take-Back events are aimed at providing a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs. These events also help to educate the general public on the potential for medication abuse.

No Drugs Down Toilets or Sinks

If you’re like most people, you have likely gathered a collection of prescription drugs and other medications that are no longer needed or are expired. It was once common practice to flush these medications down the toilet or sink, but we now know that some of these substances are bad for the environment. Sewage treatment plants and septic tanks do not remove the drugs, allowing them to later enter the surface and ground waters or soils.

Why should I take the time to do this?

At times, properly disposing of unwanted medications may seem inconvenient; however, there are some very important reasons to do this in a safe and responsible manner, including:

  • It’s for your environment – Please do not flush medications.
  • Prescription drug abuse is widespread – Sixty percent of those who abuse painkillers indicate that they received the drugs free from relatives or friends.
  • Accidental poisoning – You can help to take steps to prevent accidental poisoning and avoid harm to future generations.

Why can’t my nurse dispose of my medications?

The DEA released new rules regarding safe and secure prescription drug disposal effective October 7, 2014. This states that, “Home hospice and homecare personnel are not authorized to receive pharmaceutical controlled substances from ultimate users for the purpose of disposal. In addition, an ultimate user includes a person who has lawfully obtained, and possesses, a controlled substance for his own use or for the use of a member of his household. Accordingly, a member of the hospice patient’s household may dispose of the patient’s pharmaceutical controlled substances, but the home hospice or homecare provider cannot do so unless otherwise authorized by law to dispose of the decedent’s personal property.”