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Keeping unused prescription medications at home can be dangerous. Fortunately, there are easy ways to safely dispose of them. RALI will highlight national and local resources for safe disposal.

Take steps today to ensure your family and community are safe from prescription drug abuse.  

Rx Safety at Home

When prescription medications are needed,
it’s important to keep them secure. Safety tips include:


Follow doctor’s orders

  • Prescription medications should only be taken by the person to whom the medication was prescribed.

  • Only take medications as directed - do not take more than instructed by your health provider. It is important that you take your medicine at the dosage and time directed by your doctor.

  • Do not take the medications for any purpose beyond what was prescribed by the doctor.

  • Do not share or take someone else’s prescription medication.

  • If you have any questions regarding your prescription, including whether non-opioid treatment options are available, discuss those with your doctor or other health care provider.


Safely store medications

  • Always keep medication in the original container.

  • Keep medications out of sight of children and young adults.
    Return medication to a secure place after every use.

  • Do not keep loose pills in containers or places where children and young adults can easily find them. Remember, small children may mistake loose pills for candy, and teens may seek out pills for recreational use.


Have a conversation

  • Explain to family members, especially children and teens, the dangers of taking prescription opioids that are not prescribed.

  • Make it a family rule that medications are kept in original containers, only the person to whom the medicine was prescribed will take it, prescriptions are kept in a secure location and are disposed of when no longer needed.

  • If your child or teen is prescribed a prescription medicine, you can help prevent prescription drug misuse by talking with your child/teen about how to safely use their medication, how to turn down invitations to misuse from others, and the importance of not sharing any unused medicines with others. You can also help them identify positive alternatives for coping with the demands of life.

Safely dispose of medications:

  • Once you are finished using a prescription, dispose of unneeded or unused pills. Do not keep medication “just in case.”

  • There are several safe disposal options for unused medication. Learn more below:


Use household items

You can use cat litter or old coffee grounds to safely dispose of your medicines. Simply:

Pour cat litter or old coffee grounds in an airtight container 

Pour in your old medicines


Throw the container away 

Protect your identity by scratching out your personal info on the medication bottle and throwing it away.

Some medicines may require a different approach. Call the EPA office in your region to ensure this method is appropriate for you.

Visit a take-back location

Go to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website, type in your zip code and find a program near you that will take your old medicines and safely dispose of them for you.

Use a drug disposal kit

Disposal pouches make it simple to discard of your old medicines. All you have to do is:

Open the pouch

Pour in your old medicines 



Toss the pouch
in the garbage 

Learn more by visiting the Food and Drug Administration website. You can also check with your doctor about the disposal method best suited for the medication you have been prescribed.

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