Safe Medication Storage and Disposal

Safe Medication Storage and Disposal

Safe Medication Storage and Disposal

Proper storage and disposal of prescription medications is everyone’s responsibility. Unsecure storage and improper disposal of unused medications can lead to misuse or abuse. Keep yourself, your family members and the community safe by following simple guidelines to make sure your prescription medications do not end up in the wrong hands.

Safe Storage

Medications, especially opioids, are effective at managing pain and other symptoms, but are dangerous if a family member or pet swallows them. Check the below list for tips to keep your medications secure and out of sight:

  • Choose a location away from and out of sight of children and visitors.
  • Consider keeping medication in a locked cabinet.
  • Return medication to your secure location after each use; do not leave pill containers on countertops or nightstands.
  • Store in a bottle with a child-resistant lid.
  • Do not keep loose pills in plastic bags or containers in your purse, luggage or office drawer.

Safe Disposal

Once an individual is finished taking a prescription medication, leftover medication should be disposed of immediately. There are a variety of ways to dispose of medications in a safe manner:

  • Ask your pharmacist, the Drug Enforcement Administration* or city government about local take-back programs, an easy way to bring unused drugs to a certain location for proper disposal. Many city websites include listings of take-back sites.
  • Select Walgreens stores offer take-back programs.
  • Avoid flushing prescriptions down the toilet or pouring in a drain because they can pollute water supplies.
  • If there is not a take-back program easily accessible, follow the below steps to safely put medications in the trash:
    • Put extra medications in a sealable plastic bag or coffee can.
    • Mix the medication with an undesirable substance like cat litter or used coffee grounds.
    • Place the bag or can in the trash, not in recycling bags or containers.
Legal Information
*

By clicking on these websites, you are leaving the Northwestern Medicine website. These websites are independent resources. Northwestern Medicine does not operate or control the content of these websites. By visiting these websites, you agree to this third party’s terms of use for their website.