UPDATED 4/1/2017: A laundry list of pills fill most cabinets reminding you of surgeries, infections, and illnesses. Free ways to get rid of the medicine safely.
Dangerous to keep old medicine
Keeping expired, unwanted, and unused pills around the house is a hazard to your family. Small children may get their hands on them. Also, addicted people steal painkillers.
Painkillers are a gateway drug. Many drug addicts start with painkillers. Then they move on to more potent substances.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 8 out of 10 new heroin users began using the drug after they could no longer get or afford prescription painkillers.
Having old medicine in your home puts you at risk. If someone finds out you have the pills they may try to steal them. It may be a friend or a family member who knows you have painkillers in the house. That’s why it’s important to safely dispose old medicine.
Like everything else, you may be tempted to throw old medicine in the trash. It’s a bad idea. The medicine can seep into the ground and can contaminate our drinking water and environment.
Where to safely dispose old medicine
Throughout the year, the Drug Enforcement Administration teams up with law enforcement so you can safely dispose of old medicine. They’re called “Take-Back” programs and usually take place in the fall and spring.
While there are events throughout the year, some community groups take the unwanted medicine year round. Click here to find a “take-back” program in your community.
While the DEA database is a good resource, many programs are not in that list that accept medication. Most police departments accept old medication. Call or ask around your community if you don’t see a program listed above.
Throwing away old medicine
Throwing medicine away is not the preferred method of disposal. If it’s your only choice, take steps to throw the medicine away safely.
Mix the medicine with kitty litter, dirt, or used coffee grounds. Then place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag or other container. Now, you can throw it in the trash. Do not crush tablets or capsules.
Throwing away the medicine may not be your only option to safely dispose of old medicine.
Flushing old medicine
The Food and Drug Administration says it’s alright to flush certain medications. There is a list of old medicine that’s safe to flush. Here’s the FDA list of safe medication to flush:
|Abstral (PDF – 1M), tablets (sublingual)||Fentanyl|
|Actiq (PDF – 251KB), oral transmucosal lozenge *||Fentanyl Citrate|
|Avinza (PDF – 51KB), capsules (extended release)||Morphine Sulfate|
|Belbuca (PDF – 44KB), soluble film (buccal)||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride|
|Buprenorphine Hydrochloride, tablets (sublingual) *||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride|
|Buprenorphine Hydrochloride; Naloxone Hydrochloride, tablets (sublingual) *||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride; Naloxone Hydrochloride|
|Butrans (PDF – 388KB), transdermal patch system||Buprenorphine|
|Daytrana (PDF – 281KB), transdermal patch system||Methylphenidate|
|Demerol, tablets *||Meperidine Hydrochloride|
|Demerol, oral solution *||Meperidine Hydrochloride|
|Diastat/Diastat AcuDial, rectal gel [for disposal
instructions: click on link, then go to “Label information”
and view current label]
|Dilaudid, tablets *||Hydromorphone Hydrochloride|
|Dilaudid, oral liquid *||Hydromorphone Hydrochloride|
|Dolophine Hydrochloride (PDF – 48KB), tablets *||Methadone Hydrochloride|
|Duragesic (PDF – 179KB), patch (extended release) *||Fentanyl|
|Embeda (PDF – 39KB), capsules (extended release)||Morphine Sulfate; Naltrexone Hydrochloride|
|Exalgo (PDF – 83KB), tablets (extended release)||Hydromorphone Hydrochloride|
|Fentora (PDF – 338KB), tablets (buccal)||Fentanyl Citrate|
|Hysingla ER (PDF – 78KB) tablets (extended release)||Hydrocodone Bitartrate|
|Kadian (PDF – 135KB), capsules (extended release)||Morphine Sulfate|
|Methadone Hydrochloride, oral solution *||Methadone Hydrochloride|
|Methadose, tablets *||Methadone Hydrochloride|
|Morphabond (PDF – 162 KB), tablets (extended release)||Morphine Sulfate|
|Morphine Sulfate, tablets (immediate release) *||Morphine Sulfate|
|Morphine Sulfate (PDF – 282KB), oral solution *||Morphine Sulfate|
|MS Contin (PDF – 433KB), tablets (extended release) *||Morphine Sulfate|
|Nucynta ER (PDF – 38KB), tablets (extended release)||Tapentadol|
|Onsolis (PDF – 297KB), soluble film (buccal)||Fentanyl Citrate|
|Opana, tablets (immediate release)||Oxymorphone Hydrochloride|
|Opana ER (PDF – 56KB), tablets (extended release)||Oxymorphone Hydrochloride|
|Oxecta, tablets (immediate release)||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Oxycodone Hydrochloride, capsules||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Oxycodone Hydrochloride (PDF – 100KB), oral solution||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Oxycontin (PDF – 417KB), tablets (extended release)|
|Percocet, tablets *||Acetaminophen; Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Percodan, tablets *||Aspirin; Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Suboxone (PDF – 83KB), film (sublingual)||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride; Naloxone Hydrochloride|
|Targiniq ER (PDF – 48KB), tablets (extended release)||Oxycodone Hydrochloride; Naloxone Hydrochloride|
|Xartemis XR (PDF – 113KB) tablets||Oxycodone Hydrochloride; Acetaminophen|
|Xtampza ER (PDF – 67.6KB), capsules (extended release)||Oxycodone|
|Xyrem (PDF – 185KB), oral solution||Sodium Oxybate|
|Zohydro ER (PDF – 90KB) capsules (extended release)||Hydrocodone Bitartrate|
|Zubsolv (PDF – 354KB), tablets (sublingual)||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride; Naloxone Hydrochloride|