How To Properly Dispose Of Prescription Pain Medication 

There are plenty of urban legends about getting rid of opioid painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. If you ask any number of people you’ll receive any number of answers from “flush them” to “don’t flush them because it poisons the water supply” to “throw them away” and of course “you can’t throw them away because animals will eat them”. Amidst this jumble of misinformation it’s hard to figure out what the truth is, so here’s a guide to getting rid of prescription pain medication.


Check The Label

First, make sure that what you have is a name brand, or generic label, prescription pain medication. You’re looking for names like Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, and Vicodin among others. There is no need to get rid of non-prescription pain medications as they are not frequently abused or misused. 


The Importance Of Disposal

You may be wondering, do I need to properly dispose of my prescription pain medication? It might be helpful to have it around the house in case I need it one day. The answer is clear; yes, you need to get rid of it. Keeping prescription pain medication around is a sure-fire way to open the door to misuse, either by yourself or someone in your household. One of the main reasons that opioids are so highly addictive is the ease with which they can be attained. Properly disposing of your opioid pain medication is the only responsible way to ensure that you are not tempting yourself or someone you know to abuse this kind of medication. 


Where To Dispose Of Opioids Safely

Both the DEA and FDA provide great resources for disposing of prescription medications safely. The DEA offers many drug drop-off centers where they take back your drugs and dispose of them properly. Most of these drug disposal sites are within pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS and are listed on the FDA’s website. If there is not a drug disposal site near you there are still several effective ways of getting rid of drugs. The first is to combine the drug in a Ziploc bag with an undesirable substance like coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This will prevent it from being taken out of the trash by someone looking for drugs. Secondly, many drugs come with disposal instructions and are perfectly fine being flushed down the toilet. Consult the FDA’s “Flush List” before disposing of your opioids with this method. 


The Myth Of Tainting the Water Supply

One of the main concerns that people have when it comes to flushing their drugs down the toilet is that it will taint the water supply and impact the environment. However, this isn’t the case with many drugs. The main reason to flush any drugs immediately is to avoid potential misuse or accidental ingestion by children or animals. Opioids are high up on the flush list as they are especially common to be misused. Prescription medications tainting the water supply is largely a myth, and in fact, the most amount of drugs going into the water supply are from drugs passing through the human body and being expelled in the bathroom. If this is still a concern it’s best to play it on the safe side and simply take the medication to a drug disposal site.


If you need more information about the proper disposal of prescription pain medication, give us a call or fill out our online contact form. We’ll be glad to help you handle your disposal needs the right way, the safe way, the ethical way.