Expired Prescriptions? Here's How Properly Dispose of Medication

Senior woman holding pills and reading the information on the label
Proper and safe medication disposal is important.

With many aging parents taking multiple prescriptions, and with physicians adding and changing medications and dosages to discover ideal solutions, it is crucial to know how to properly dispose of medication safely once it is expired or no longer needed. There are several medication disposal options:

  • Check labels. The medication's label or informational literature might provide direction about how to properly dispose of the medication. You can even check with the pharmacist for recommendations.
  • Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This is the suggested way to properly dispose of medication safely, and is organized annually in locations throughout the country by the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Discover the location closest to you and also the next date for the local event.
  • Use caution before flushing. Flushing prescription medications down the toilet is generally not advised, but there are certain exceptions, detailed in the FDA’s Flush List. Medications currently considered acceptable to flush include:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Benzhydrocodone
    • Buprenorphine
    • Diazepam
    • Fentanyl
    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
    • Meperidine
    • Methadone
    • Methylphenidate
    • Morphine
    • Oxycodone
    • Oxymorphone
    • Sodium Oxybate
    • Tapentadol
  • Conceal when disposing. Many prescription medications can be thrown away with normal garbage, if safeguards are taken to restrict animals from unintentionally ingesting them or from anyone looking for drugs to locate and take them. The FDA advises combining the prescription drugs with an undesirable substance – such as coffee grounds or kitty litter – and then putting in a secured plastic bag prior to adding to your household trash bag.
  • Take off identifying information. Be sure to scratch out and/or shred any personal information to safeguard the older adult's identification and to prevent anybody who is unauthorized from discovering the pill container and obtaining a refill of the prescription.

For more help with medications, including medication reminders to ensure older adults take prescriptions exactly as recommended by the physician, reach out to the aging care experts at Midnight Sun Home Care. We’re also here to assist with a wide selection of aging care needs at home that improve wellbeing for seniors, including:

  • Help with personal care and hygiene needs
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light household chores
  • Companionship to engage in enjoyable activities and conversations
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
  • Running errands, such as picking up prescriptions and groceries
  • And a lot more

Reach out to us at Midnight Sun in Anchorage at (907) 677-7890 to let us know more about the challenges a senior loved one is facing, and to ask about a complimentary in-home consultation to allow us to share with you more about our personal care in Anchorage, AK and surrounding communities. For a list of all of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.


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