How to Safely Dispose of Medication That Is Unwanted/Expired

With so many seniors taking multiple prescriptions, and with doctors adding and changing dosages and medications to find ideal solutions, it is critical to understand what to do with medications that are no longer needed or have expired. There are several options to dispose of medication:

  • Check labels. The medication’s label or informational literature might provide instructions on exactly how to safely dispose of the drug. You could also ask the pharmacist for guidelines.
  • Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This is the suggested technique to properly dispose of unwanted medications, and it is organized once a year in locations throughout the country by the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Find the venue nearest to you in addition to the next date for the event.
  • Use care prior to flushing medication down the toilet. Flushing medications down the toilet is typically not advised, but there are specific exceptions, outlined in the FDA’s Flush List. Medications currently considered acceptable to flush include:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Benzhydrocodone
    • Buprenorphine
    • Diazepam
    • Fentanyl
    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
    • Meperidine
    • Methadone
    • Methylphenidate
    • Morphine
    • Oxycodone
    • Oxymorphone
    • Sodium Oxybate
    • Tapentadol
  • Disguise when discarding. Many prescription drugs can be thrown away with normal trash, if precautions are taken to restrict animals from inadvertently ingesting them or from anyone looking for drugs to find and take them. The FDA recommends combining the medications with an undesirable substance – such as coffee grounds or kitty litter – and then placing in a secured plastic bag prior to adding to your household trash bag.
  • Eliminate identifying information. Make sure to scratch out and/or shred any personal information to protect the senior’s identification in order to prevent someone who is unauthorized from finding the medicine container and obtaining a refill of the prescription.

For more assistance with medications, including medication reminders to ensure seniors take prescription medications exactly as recommended by the physician, connect with the aging care experts at Seniorcorp, one of the top providers of at home senior services in Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas. We are also here to help with a variety of aging care needs at home that improve wellbeing for senior loved ones, such as:

Call us at 757.640.0557 to learn more about our at home senior services in Virginia Beach and surrounding communities, or to request a complimentary in-home consultation.