Monday, November 10, 2008

Have Unused and Expired Medications? Give To Take-Back Programs.

Most people have a cabinet or area in their home used to store medication. I bet if you took a look in there you would find old, unused medications. Unfortunately, the US Office of National Drug Control Policy still advises people to flush medicine down the sink or toliet or throw them in the garbage.

The truth is, flushing medications only leads the medication to end up back in our tap water and cause defects in animals. Increasing amounts of prescription drugs and personal care products are being detected in U.S. rivers, waterways, and groundwater. Wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped to “filter out” these chemicals, so drugs like antidepressants, cholesterol reducers and antibiotics are being detected in drinking water supplies. The risk to humans and animals of long-term exposure to these contaminants in drinking water is unknown.

So what can we do with our unused and old medication? Luckily, "drug take back" programs are rising. There are facilities that can and will take your unused and outdated medicines and properly dispose of them. A lot of pharmacies are taking part in this. I found that the majority of locations follow these rules: Pill bottles, blister packs, ointment tubes, and leak-proof liquid containers are all acceptable. Remove or black out any personal information on the label to protect your privacy, but make sure the drug name is still visible. They do not accept scheduled drugs.  Police stations do take scheduled/controlled drugs.

If you do not see a location near you, please do not flush your medications. Instead:

  • Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers
  • Mix the prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as coffee grounds or cat litter
  • Put the mixture in an empty can or sealable bags and throw in the trash
  • When possible, return prescription drugs to pharmaceutical take-back locations

  • Locations by State (I will update as much as possible)

    **Update: CVS announced yesterday that all of its 7,200 locations will now offer customers an affordable way to safely dispose of unused, expired or unwanted medications.


    - Cloverdale
    - Cotati
    - Gualala
    - Guerneville
    - Healdsburg
    - Los Angeles County "Safe Drug Dropoff" Locations 
    - Petaluma
    - Rohnert Park
    - San Francisco
    - Santa Rosa
    - Sebastopol
    - Sonoma
    - Willits
    - Windsor
    Search CalRecyle for a location

    - Information

    - Chicago
    - Henry County

    - The Safe Medicine Disposal for ME program

    - Arlington
    - Braintree
    - Fall River


    - Washtenaw County

    - Chisago County

    - St. Louis

    New York
    - Westchester County

    - Information

    - Handled by Law Enforcement with locked, mounted steel collection bins in the lobbies of their stations

    - St. Albans

    - Clark County
    - King County
    - Kitsap County
    - Pierce County
    - Snohomish County
    - Spokane County
    - Thurston County

    If you know of locations that have take-back programs, please contact me so I can add them to this list. As you can see, there are many states missing. Please send any information to

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