Unused or expired medications are dangerous both for very young children who may take them thinking they are candy or out of curiosity, and teenagers who may want to experiment with drugs or who may already have a drug abuse problem and see them as a way to get high. Though many medications lose potency after they expire, some medications degrade in ways that make them even more harmful and poisonous, increasing the hazards. Whenever you have drugs you no longer need or want to use, it is best to dispose of them promptly and adequately.

How to Dispose of Pills

If you find yourself wondering how to dispose of prescription medication, medicine take-back programs are the first place to start. These may be locally organized or held as part of one of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) national take-back events to encourage the safe disposal of prescription drugs. You can also check with local law enforcement to see if they offer a similar program, or know of one in the area. Nearby waste management agencies in Minnesota may also be able to guide you in this.

Sometimes there are no other resources available, and you are stuck having to dispose of unwanted medications yourself. The first step is to destroy all information contained on the capsules as this is private information that you don’t want getting into the wrong hands. You especially do not want people knowing if you are taking opioid painkillers, whether it is a stranger or people coming to your house you may know including friends of your children. They could be dependent and latch on to you as a source for obtaining drugs. Unwanted medicines should be mixed with an unpalatable substance like ordinary dirt, coffee grounds and used tea leaves, or kitty litter. This should then be sealed in a plastic bag before being thrown out with your regular trash.

Teen Drug Addict

Families who have a teen in the household with a suspected substance abuse problem need to be especially vigilant, including when it comes to prescription medications. Many drug abusers seek prescription drugs once they learn about the powerful effect of opioid medications. These can often be the gateway to prescription drug abuse, heroin use, or dependence on illegally produced pills such as those containing fentanyl with potentially deadly consequences. Do not allow unused or expired painkiller medications to lead to a severe problem with opioid dependence, as this can happen to anyone.

Be safe by destroying all unwanted and expired medications in a timely fashion. Should you know a teen who is dependent on opioid painkillers or another drug, and who needs help finding a teen rehab center, contact the Anthony Louis Center to schedule an appointment.


Teen Addiction & Substance Abuse - Anthony Louis Center