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Future Health

Disposing of Prescription Drugs

August 1, 2016 

Teens abusing prescriptions drugs is not a new topic. The majority of these teens that are abusing get their drugs from their family and friends, but the drugs are not given to them, the teens are taking them from medicine cabinets. It’s been reported that as many as one in five teens have experimented with prescription drugs that were not intended for them.


It’s not just teens that are abusing prescription drugs, it’s all age groups, and for a range of reasons. Parents should be educating their kids about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs which means the parent has to first educate themselves. Another way parents can combat this issue is by safeguarding your medicine. Keep your prescriptions safe and away from anyone who could potentially take them – including house guests.


There are also programs in place for disposing of your old prescriptions when you’re no longer using them. Some of these programs are called “take-back” programs, which means you drop them off to a designated official such as a local law enforcement agency or a “drop box” which is essentially like a mail drop box but specifically for prescriptions.


If there are no take-back programs around you the FDA recommends that you dispose of old medicines by either flushing them down the toilet (you can find a full list of flushable scripts at the end of this blog) or by putting them in a bag along with used coffee grounds or cat litter (with a little water) and throwing them in your trash. Some pharmacies may take the prescriptions back but this is not a common practice. Mail back envelopes may be provided to send your unused medications back to companies so they can dispose of the pharmaceuticals properly.


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) holds a National Take Back Initiative on April 30th but you can find other programs any time of the year. This year (2016) the DEA collected 447 tons of pills (893,498 pounds) during their initiative. If you do not need your medicine, please dispose of it. This will keep animals, young children, and teens out of reach of the medicine to ensure their safety and well being.


 You can find a full list of flushable scripts at