Deciding what to do with leftover prescription medications can be difficult, and leaving them to sit around the house while waiting for an opportunity to properly dispose of them can be dangerous. Prescription medications can not only be potentially harmful to children or pets if accidentally consumed, but the opioid epidemic has proven that keeping unnecessary prescription drugs in the home can be deadly to people of all ages. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 49% of people who misuse opioids get their supply from a friend or family member’s prescription. Unused medications cannot simply be returned to the pharmacy they were received by due to certain regulations preventing that.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the best way to get rid of prescription medications is to bring them to an official collection site. Locations such as some drugstores and pharmacies may be willing to take back your medication year round, but many more locations are available on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which occurs twice annually, once in April and once in October. Click here to find an official collection site near you.

If a collection site is not available to you, or you need to immediately dispose of your medication, check first if the drug is on the FDA flush list. If it is, flush the medication down the toilet. Find the FDA flush list here.

If the medication is not on the FDA flush list, simply dispose of it in your household trash by mixing the medications with a substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds and placing the mixture in a container such as a sealed bag. Whether you dispose of your medication by flushing or throwing away, be sure to scratch out all personal information on the prescription label before tossing.