National Prescription Take Back Day

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National Prescription Take Back Day

About the author: Traci Eilers is a pharmacist at the Human Services Center.

Have you ever wondered what to do with expired or unused medication?  Many are at a loss with what to do with their old medication, so it collects from year to year.  Keeping unused or expired medications can be dangerous especially for children, teens, and pets.  Prescription drugs are safe only when used by the person it was prescribed for and obtained from a pharmacy.  As a pharmacist, I advise my patients that–if you weren’t prescribed the medication or don’t know the source of the drug, do not take it!  Doing so puts yourself at risk of addiction or even death.  It’s one of the reasons why it is so important to clean out expired or old medication you no longer use. With the national DEA prescription drug take back day coming up on April 22nd, here are some helpful tips to help you get rid of your unused or expired drugs.  

Safe Ways for Medication Disposal:

  • Drop off at one of the take back locations. Many take back locations like pharmacies and police stations accept medications year-round.
  • Pick up a DisposeRx packet at your local pharmacy or fill out a form on the Avoid Opioid website: and have them mailed directly to you for FREE!
  • To safely throw your medication away in the trash without DisposeRx packets, follow these steps:
  • Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This makes the medicine less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through the trash looking for drugs.
  • Put the mixture in something you can close (a laundry detergent container, re-sealable zipper storage bag, empty can, or other container) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.
  • Seal container with duct tape to ensure no leakage.  

Throw the container in the garbage.

  • Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.
  • Ask your local pharmacy about their Safe Disposal Program. Many have their own kiosk or program to take back unused or expired medications.
  • To Flush or Not to Flush… There are medications that are safe to flush and some that are not.  Search the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Flush List for certain medications. When in doubt, always ask your local pharmacist if a medication is flushable.


For more information about these safe disposal options, visit

FDA’s Flush List:

Keep medications you are currently using safe and secure by ordering a free medication lock box at  


The mission of the Human Services Center (HSC) is to provide individuals who are mentally ill or chemically dependent with effective, individualized professional treatment enabling them to achieve their highest level of personal independence in the most therapeutic environment.


To read previous editions of the Mental Health Memo visit