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Proper Drug Disposal

drug disposal, prescription drug disposal

Or, Guess How Many Pills Are in This Bag

drug disposal, dispose unused medicines

You’re probably wondering what the hell was the matter with me to have what, at a distance, appears to be a bag of Skittles.

And the fact that it does look like a bag of sugary candy is why this is a horribly dangerous thing to have sitting out on the counter while hosting a children’s birthday party. Not that I did anything like that just to see what would happen, especially if that snot-nosed Milo bastard, the one who always farts on everyone and pinches the cats, got a hold of them.

Instead, I brought it to my NA meeting to see what would happen.

Well, I had to get rid of them somewhere, and who else but a bunch of burned-out, but imaginative, druggies could figure out the proper way to dispose of unused prescription drugs, am I right? It was that, or drop it off at some random rave at 2 in the morning. Do they still have those, raves?

OK, all kidding aside, and these aren’t my drugs, a “friend” texted this photo to me (no really!), I had no idea how to properly dispose of unused prescription drugs, do you? Turns out there are websites and entire governments dedicated to such topics.

Proper Drug Disposal

  • Don’t flush down the toilet. You numbskull. “Studies have found that up to 80% of streams in the U.S. have measurable concentrations of prescription drugs“.
  • Most drugs should be mixed with coffee grounds or kitty litter and sealed in baggies to throw in your trash. Or, you can drop them off at participating locations (the latter being the better choice).
  • Here in Sacramento you can check the Don’t Rush to Flush website to find a drop-off bin near you. But they won’t accept “controlled substances”. Those you have to give to law enforcement officers at DEA Take Back programs.
  • October 26, 2013 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, according to the Department of Justice. This is where DEA law enforcement officials will be rolling large oxcarts through your neighborhood screaming “Bring out your drugs!”. Or maybe they’ll just provide drop-off locations where officials will take your drugs. And your fingerprints. And your picture. And your DNA. And if you’re really paranoid, your 4th amendments rights. So yeah, if you want to properly dispose of your 4th amendments rights, don’t forget to bring those too. In a Zip-Lock baggie mixed with kitty litter or coffee grounds.


So, that’s it. If you have any extra Vicodin laying around, and really, who would have any of THAT leftover, you have this one day to risk your criminal history being discovered and personally hand it over to a law enforcement official. Better to have your kid do it. While you wait in the car.

In a disguise.

With the engine running.


P.S. If you’re totally confused about the facts (and after reading this, I would be), check these sites for the real info:

Don’t Rush to Flush website (see the FAQ section)

How to Dispose of Unused Medicines (by the FDA)

How to Dispose of Medicines Properly (by the EPA)

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  1. Ben Swilley says:

    I didn’t read the “Don’t Rush to Flush,” article. I just like the title and I think we can later toilet-humorously tack it to another story that has nothing to do with pills.

    I’ve read that pills are good for ten years so if I have occasion to get a prescription for good stuff and I find I don’t really need it or use it all, I save it until I really think I need it. when you get as old as I am you have to think creatively as possible about future pain which can strike any minute.

    I’m catching up on all your posts.

    1. Margaret says:

      I always wondered if expiration dates on things are dubious and a conspiracy by Big Whatever to get you buy them more often.

      And you sweet catching up on all my posts? :) You’re the best!

  2. Wow, that was random– I was just looking in my crowded-with-pill-bottles medicine and wondered out loud WTH to do with them all. I was going to buy the $5.95 envelope at the pharmacy that allows you to mail back (to lord knows where) all your unused medications so they don’t go down the toilet.

  3. Virgil S says:

    I hate to say it but I knew a guy who cleaned carpets and he said the first thing he did was to raid the medicine cabinet. Makes you wonder how many lowlifes like him are around. Get rid of the old prescriptions, they might not be good anymore, anyway. The best advice on here is to not flush them.

  4. Indigo Roth says:

    Hey Margaret! This is bizarre. We’ve always been told to take them to a pharmacy for safe disposal. Seems sensible, right? Oooooh, Skittles… Indigo x

  5. Nora Blithe says:

    Hey Margaret! Do you have anything for a headache?

  6. Bryan Logie says:

    VERY nice post, M! As someone who has to take a LOT of medication, and medication that changes over time, I too had to figure out how to get rid of some things. It is surprising that this stuff isn’t on a pamphlet somewhere (it probably is, but…) but your advice was spot on and for what it’s worth I can verify and back you up on it! ;)

    Here’s some extra info from what I have gleaned in my travels…

    The flushing thing is one people have trouble wrapping their heads around for some reason. It’s just simple math. As the number of Americans in recent times who take medicine – millions and millions – there is mountains of this stuff literally going down the drain. And people “back in the day” were so worried about fluoridation and a little LSD being put in the water supply. Bah! Kids play! :P

    The coffee grounds/cat litter thing really does work, I guess. I seriously doubted it based on the few cases of drug abuse I had the misfortune of coming into contact with. But I guess even drug crazed maniacs can’t stand digging in stuff like that. You would think they wouldn’t mind the coffee grounds but I guess the brain equates it so strongly with garbage that it make people want to puke. Interesting note: a doctor I knew wouldn’t put old meds in those biohazard bins that they throw used needles and bloody things in because…people broke into them! Pretty crazy, eh? Coffee grounds vs. bloody mutant viral syringes…coffee wins! Ah…the power of the mean bean… ;)

    Again, thanks for the info. Also, it’s sad to think that some meds can’t somehow be “recycled” but I guess it would be so hard as to how they could “resmelt” them or whatever. It’s so weird… They spend billions on the research but the actual “stuff” that they make that you swallow…it’s worth micro-pennies……

  7. Give them to the cat.

  8. I save ALL of my left over medications – ya never know when they just might come in handy!

    But – if I ever did decide to get rid of them – I would totally have my kid do it. While I waited in the car. In a disguise. With the engine running.

    1. Bryan Logie says:

      Make sure to try and check online if they are safe to use after a certain date! I will try to find the one case I saw recently (within the last year) where a woman had taken something and she died as a result. So be VERY careful with old meds! :)

      1. Oh shit! Okay. Thank you.

    2. Bryan Logie says:

      It’s entirely possible that I am a crazy man! Here’s a helpful article that looks reputable about expiration dates (and they maybe aren’t as dire as I thought):

      Take care! :)

  9. Sparky says:

    You’re actually gonna trust the government???!!! Are you MAD!? The Dept. of (in)Justice will be sure to throw you under the bus, then back up several times over you, then make sure you’re dead or in jail in short order. Shoot, I won’t even visit the website. They track you, you know. So good luck with that! I’d rather keep, uh, any drugs that I “would” have if I had any.

    Which I don’t.

    Besides, I’m just holding them for a friend.


    1. Margaret says:

      Oh, Sparky! You crack me up. And I can only hope that the whole blogosphere will come to my defense when they lock me up, because I keep hearing how “they” can frame you with anything these days. Whether it’s twisting your Google searches into child porn surfing or outright planting of it. If anything, it would make a good blog post. Do they have WiFi access in prison?

      1. Sparky says:

        Holy crap, I never thought about them planting “evidence” on my computer!! I knew I shouldn’ta got rid of that tin hat …

        And as a matter of fact, they do have WiFi. You can also get a free sex change and all the drugs you want.

        Not that I’ve actually been in a prison or anything.


  10. Brad says:

    In Sunnyvale, any Fire Station will take them. (only dry pills, no liquids/creams.)

    1. Margaret says:

      Good to know, Brad! Thanks!

  11. Given how many people will STEAL drugs out of your medicine cabinet – there are stories almost every day in the paper that I eat here – it is probably better to dispose of them properly.

    1. Margaret says:

      Steal!? Gosh, I was just worried about people snooping.

  12. I much prefer to keep all those prescription bottles in my medicine cabinet because who knows… I might need some Vicodin or something some day. Besides, it’s always fun to freak out the rude people who come to visit and check out what’s in the medicine cabinet.

    1. Margaret says:

      I remember reading somewhere that some large percentage (I can’t recall the exact number) of people absolutely WILL look in your medicine cabinet when they use your bathroom. Which gives me a mischievous idea…bwha-ha-haaaaa!

      1. Jack says:

        I had a friend who for some reason glued the medicine cabinet closed. After showings when she tried to sell her house, she routinely found her bathroom mirror askew. One time it was sitting in her sink.

        1. Margaret says:

          LOL! That’s hysterical, Jack.