Keeping track of prescription medication is important for our health and the safety of those around us. We know to keep prescription drugs away from children, and to take them only as prescribed. However, an equally important step is to ensure proper disposal of all unused prescription medications. Safe disposal reduces the risk of harm from accidental exposure or intentional misuse. Here are three ways to help you get rid of unused medications in your home.


Although flushing expired, unwanted, or unused prescription medications is an efficient way to get potentially hazardous medications out of the house, it is not necessarily ideal. Flushing introduces chemicals into the waterway and environment that did not occur naturally. Regardless the FDA recommends that certain drugs, if there are no drug take-back programs or DEA collectors are in the area, should be flushed. These are medications that could be especially harmful or even fatal with just one dose if someone other than the patient prescribed with the medication takes them.

Household Garbage

If your community does not have a designated location for safe medicine disposal and the medication is not marked with specified instructions for disposal, throwing it in the trash is also an option. If you need to dispose of a medication in your household garbage, here are a few FDA recommendations:

  • Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds
  • Put the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag
  • Throw the container into the garbage
  • Scratch out all personal information on the medication label to make it unreadable and dispose of or recycle the container

DEA Authorized Collectors and Drug Take-back programs

Often, communities see the risk in having unwanted drugs in their area and provide disposal assistance. Many cities, states, or counties have drug take-back programs for safe prescription medication disposal. Kennebunk, Maine has a Medication Return Box located in the lobby of the police department. You can also find US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration authorized collectors here.

Handling prescription medication safely has a significant impact on everyone in your neighborhood. Disposing of medication safely is one small way you can protect your family and your community. To ensure all areas of your life are protected, contact your Cole Harrison agent to make sure you are covered.


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