Storage and Disposal

Tips for Medication Storage and Disposal

Reducing access to prescription drugs is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent substance misuse. There are simple steps you can take to stop your medications from getting into the wrong hands.

Proper Storage

  • Ask your pharmacist if your prescribed medications pose a risk of misuse.
  • If so, lock your medications in a cabinet, drawer, or medicine safe, out of the reach of adults who may be at risk for drug misuse, children, and pets.
  • Count your prescription pills every two weeks to ensure that you have been taking them as prescribed and that none have been removed by someone other than you.

Proper Disposal of Unused Medication

  • Find out if your community has a medication take-back program. You can check online or ask your local drug prevention coalition or police department to see if there are any programs in your area.
  • Request a drug disposal bag from your local health department or pharmacy. If there are no take-back programs in your area, your local health department or select pharmacies may provide you with a safe disposal bag that contains powder to dissolve your unused medication.
  • Safe home disposal. If a take-back program or drug disposal bag is not available, you can safely dispose of medication in your household trash by following these steps:
  1. Remove the medication from its container and mix it with an undesirable substance, such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds.
  2. Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag and place it in your household trash.
  3. Scratch out all personal information on the original prescription bottle and dispose of it in your trash or recycling.


  • Do NOT share your prescription medications with others. Your prescription medication can have dangerous or even life-threatening effects on someone else.
  • Do NOT dispose of prescription medications in the toilet or sink. Medications can contaminate the waterways and end up in your drinking water, while also causing serious harm to fish and other wildlife.