Why You Should Always Dispose of Unused Pain Medication

Drug abuse has reached epidemic levels in recent years. Explosive growth in the use of opioids has pushed deaths from drug overdoses in the United States to over 50,000 annually. Drug cartels and “pill mills” grab the headlines. However, leftover drugs kept in millions of homes are a major supply source for addicts. It has never been more important to dispose of unused medications. Equally important is knowing how to get rid of leftover drugs in a safe manner.

Pain medications like Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet are widely prescribed for legitimate medical reasons. Unfortunately, many people hang on to unused medications once the medical need has passed. Most people don’t keep these drugs in a secure place. This means curious children might get access to these powerful drugs. The same is true for anyone in the home who is dealing with drug addiction. Visitors can also be a problem. For example, teens seeking access to drugs are known to check medicine cabinets when they visit a friend’s house. Whatever the circumstances, there is a risk an user will overdose anytime he or she abuses these medications. Consumers should always store any prescription pain medications in a locked cabinet.


How to Safely Dispose of Unused Pain Medications

Consumers should never keep unused prescription pain medications. However, they should not simply put remaining pills or liquid in the trash. Tossing these drugs out may makes them accessible to animals, children or addicts. It is best to keep the medications locked up until they can be properly dispose of. It’s better not to flush leftover drugs down the toilet. Once flushed, they may find their way in the local water supply or harm fish and aquatic plants. Consumers have several options for safe disposal.

  • Start by reading the product instructions. If special steps are required for safe disposal, they will be stated.
  • Take unused doses to a pharmacy, hospital or clinic. Even some long-term care facilities will act as drop off points.
  • Many local and state organizations now sponsor “Drug Take Back” programs to make it easy for consumers to dispose of unused pain medications.
  • If the only option is to discard the medication, crush the pills and mix them with something unappealing like used coffee grounds. Seal them in a plastic bag before throwing them out.

We want to help with information about safe pain medication disposal. We encourage consumers to call 855-782-1009