Where to Dispose of Unwanted Prescription or Ove-the-Counter Medications


Proper and safe disposal of unused or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medication is important for several reasons. First, it will reduce the amount currently found in our drinking water and other bodies of water. Second, it will reduce the potential for accidental overdoses or misuse by others.

First, it is commonly known that traces of many prescription drugs end up in our water supply. This happens for two reasons. Our bodies do not process all of the medication we ingest, thus it passes through our system and into septic or sewer systems and on to our wastewater treatment facilities. Secondly, many people dispose of prescription medication by flushing it down the toilet. Again, this passes on to treatment facilities. And, while these facilities do a great job making our water safe, traces of many drugs can be found in it. Depending on the state and the regulations, so wastewater from companies can be released into local bodies of water. Whatever is in this wastewater can be ingested by wildlife or humans who might use that water.

Another commonly known fact is that drugs can and are misused on a regular basis. The definition of misuse is when someone takes a drug not prescribed to them or takes a drug in manner that is not consistent with instructions. This can be done intentionally or by mistake. Both of these situations could lead to health complications or death.

The FDA provides information for safely disposing of medications. Some drugs can be safely disposed of by flushing them down the toilet without harm to others. Consult the instructions that come with your prescription to see if that is advised. Some doctors and pharmacies will take back used prescriptions for safe disposal. Some veterinarians will take back drugs that are prescribed for your pets.

Another way to get rid of medications is through the the US Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration Office of Diversion Control’s take-back events each year. Prescription drugs can be dropped off at participating locations anonymously so that they can be properly disposed of. The April 2012 collected 552,161 pounds across the nation.

A fairly new development in the world of recycling is the prescription drug dropoff kiosks. The Paxton, Holden, and Millbury police departments each have a kiosk that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is located inside the police stations for security reasons but old, unused, or unwanted prescription medications can be dropped off anonymously with no questions asked and at no cost. The following types of medication are accepted: prescriptions, patches, ointments (prescription only), pet medications, over-the-counter medications, or vitamins.

Holden Police Department, 1370 Main Street

Millbury Police Department, 127 Elm Street

Paxton Police Department, 576 Pleasant Street

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