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Cleaning Out the Medicine Chest

I got this tip from Hospice. Sometimes we all have expired medications, prescription change medications or left over medications from pass away loved ones. This nurse told me to dispose of them by adding them to coffee grounds or soiled diapers. This stops people who go through trash cans from getting them or contaminated by them. This is vital when those medications are narcotics. He said that putting them down the toilet was not the way to dispose of them.


By Virginia G from Porterville, CA

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October 8, 20100 found this helpful

I don't know about the US, or other countries, but here in Finland, and in the UK, the best way to get rid of old prescription medication is to take it back to a chemist/apteeki.

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October 10, 20100 found this helpful

Working in the medical field we have to get rid of a lot of unwanted narcotics. So many people flush them down the toilet which ends up in our streams and contaminates our water supply. People just cannot get it through their heads this makes our water undrinkable and that sooner or later we won't have any water that isn't heavily polluted. This is really a sore subject for me and I am so glad you were properly directed to dispose of your medicine in a way that it was not consumed by someone or that would hurt our environment.



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October 10, 20100 found this helpful

In my area, there are certain days that expired and unused medications will be collected to be disposed of properly. This Sat. Oct. 16, my town is having a disposal day. If you flush them or even dispose of them in the garbage, it eventually will contaminate the water and ground. You can always check your local town officials to see if they participate in this type of disposal.

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October 10, 20100 found this helpful

In Canada, shoppers drug mart takes left over medications for incineration. Do not put them in the garbage.

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June 22, 20110 found this helpful

Hospice nurse took all drugs from deceased cancer person and mixed them in a ziplock bag filled with a cup of pure bleach.

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April 11, 20140 found this helpful

That is a great idea. We have "drug drop" containers in our courthouse and the local jail. No questions asked, prescription and otc meds are accepted. You just walk up, open the box, and drop the meds inside. It looks somewhat like the big blue boxes for depositing mail.

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November 5, 20140 found this helpful

Do NOT put them in the trash. They will go to the landfill and birds and other animals have access to them until they are buried. Once they are buried, they work their way into the water table and eventually into our drinking water. They need to go back to the pharmacy or your local law enforcement office can dispose of them. Normally they are burned in a special incinerator for this purpose. I am a safety and health specialist, and have had classes on this very topic in the past.

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October 7, 20100 found this helpful

Cleaning Out the Medicine Chest: Medicine Disposal

Resolve to clean out your medicine chest, never use medications that are not prescribed for you, are expired or which cannot be identified.

The proper way to dispose of unused medications:

  • DO NOT FLUSH medicine down the toilet or pour down the drain.
  • Place in a plastic bag and crush solid medications, then mix with water and kitty litter (This is how Hospice does it) or coffee grounds. Dispose of in the regular garbage.
  • OR talk to your pharmacist. They can guide you on medication disposal.
  • Dispose of any expired medications
  • Dispose of any prescription medications that you are not currently using under the care of the prescribing physician. That means the pain killer prescribed for you when you had that hernia surgery in July should be discarded.
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  • Remove or destroy all identifying personal information from medication labels before placing in the trash.
  • Replenish items so you will be prepared when Junior wakes up at 3 am with a fever.
  • Always take medications according to their written directions (don't exceed dosages, take more frequently or mix with alcohol, etc.)
  • And lastly, make sure you read the label prior to taking any medication. Package inserts can change and some over the counter medications may not be safe to take with your prescriptions. When in doubt, consult your pharmacist. Always report ALL medications you take to your doctor-this includes your herbal supplements and any over the counter medications. Be safe, not sorry.

By Diana from Prospect, KY


Cleaning Out the Medicine Chest: Medicine Disposal

Our Hazardous Waste collection accepts meds. Look and see if your community/city has a haz mat office/collection. (01/10/2009)


By Squirrley

Cleaning Out the Medicine Chest: Medicine Disposal

If you do not have a problem with someone stealing your medicines, and if they are still within a year of prescription date, I would not recommend destroying pain medication that was prescribed for an earlier ailment.

I remember once when my son was very young, he woke up in the middle of the night with a severe earache. I called the doctor on call who asked me to check my medicine cabinet to see what I had on hand. I listed the drug items in my cabinet and locked medicine box and when I mentioned that I had a prescription cough syrup that had codeine it, he prescribed that I give him some of that. He was not coughing so I would never have thought to give him that. My son was then able to sleep until we could get him into his regular doctor the next morning. So you really never know when an emergency will arise where it might be needed. (01/10/2009)

By Noella

Cleaning Out the Medicine Chest: Medicine Disposal

I work in a Pharmacy. We have a medication disposal drum that we fill, and when needed, we call a company who picks up the drum and incinerates it. Most Pharmacies carry one so if you need to dispose of medications, just take it to your local Pharmacist. (01/10/2009)

By Ragteller

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