How Do You Dispose of Medication?

You have a medicine cabinet full of outdated, unwanted prescription bottles. Maybe you’ve stockpiled these medicines because you’re not quite sure how to get rid of them. Can you just throw away medicine, or do you need to dispose of medication in a special way? While many prescription and over the counter medications can be thrown away, there’s a better option.

How do you dispose of medication?

There are a few different ways to dispose of medication. The best option is to bring your medications to a drug take-back event, or a location that will dispose of your unwanted medicine for you.

The FDA and EPA say that most medicines can be thrown out with household trash. However, this should be done in a special way, there are some medicines that should not be thrown away, and drug take-back options are a better alternative.

The FDA recommends flushing some medicines, but only if take-back options aren’t available. This is because these medicines could be harmful, and potentially fatal, if taken by others. There’s also the risk of misuse. Having these medicines in your home or even in your trash increases the risk of harm. There are concerns over the environmental impact of flushing medications, however.

Take-back facilities remain the best option.

The safest way to dispose of medication

Medicine take-back options are the safest way to get rid of unwanted medicine. Sometimes local law enforcement, local waste management, or government agencies will host drug take-back programs or events.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, for example, takes place twice a year in April and October.

Many communities also have permanent drug take-back locations. These are places that take any unwanted medications for proper disposal.

We have several controlled substance public disposal locations in Northwest Arkansas.

  • Lowell Pharmacy at 114 Harrison Ave, Lowell, AR
  • Walgreens Pharmacy at 1722 W Walnut St., Rogers, AR
  • CVS Pharmacy at 1749 W Walnut St., Rogers, AR


Always take medication as directed by your physician. For example, if your doctor tells you to take an antibiotic for 10 days, don’t stop taking it at 7 days, even if you start feeling better. This ensures that the medicine works like it’s supposed to, but it also helps prevent unused medicine from accumulating in cabinets and on shelves.

Be sure to get rid of medication that you no longer need in a timely manner. Removing unwanted medicine helps prevent accidental use or intentional misuse. It’s a good idea to go through your medicine cabinet on a regular basis and look for expired medicine, and medicines that you no longer need.

Proper disposal of medications, both prescription and over the counter, helps protect animals, pets, and children. It helps prevent misuse and abuse. It reduces the risk of health complications from taking the wrong medicine, taking too much of the same medicine, or taking medicine that’s too old to work. Proper disposal also helps protect the environment.