While expired or unused medications in the household are a safety concern, safely disposing of these drugs can be challenging. Fortunately, there are many programs in place to make drug disposal easier. There are several ways that you can safely get rid of your unused medicines in Florida. 

The Importance of Proper Medication Disposal

Opioids and other prescription drugs are commonly misused because of their addictive nature. Many people, particularly teens and adolescents, first get access to these substances by raiding a friend or family member’s medicine cabinet. Discarding prescription drugs from the home once they are no longer needed is crucial in preventing accidental exposure and misuse. 

However, simply throwing away prescription medication is not enough. Children and pets can easily access the trash, which increases their chances of accidental exposure. It is necessary to dispose of these substances properly to ensure the safety of everyone in your home.

How To Properly Dispose of Medicine

If you have unused or expired medication at home, there are a few safe options for disposal. 


Some medications can be flushed down the toilet, such as those on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s flush list. Medicines on the FDA’s flush list include opioids and other prescription drugs that have either a high potential for abuse or the potential for death with accidental or inappropriate use. While not the best means of disposal, flushing medication can help protect your loved ones from accidental contact or ingestion of potentially dangerous substances.


Most medications can be thrown in the trash, aside from those on the FDA flush list. However, you need to follow certain precautions to ensure that the drugs are safely discarded: 

  • Take the drugs out of their original container and combine them with something inconspicuous, like dirt or used coffee grounds. This way, children and pets will find the medicine less appealing, and anyone looking for drugs through the trash will be unable to recognize it.
  • Pour the mixture into a sealable bag or container so that its contents do not spill out. 
  • Toss the mixture into the trash. 
  • Remove personal information on the original medicine packaging, then discard the package in the trash can.

You can always contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have questions about throwing away medication. 

Drug Take Back Programs & Medicine Disposal Kiosks

Drug Take Back Programs are the safest way to dispose of opioids and other prescription drugs. These collection sites provide a way for people to drop off unused or expired medications for safe and proper disposal. Each year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hosts a National RX Take-Back Day. This event allows participants to clean out their medicine cabinets and take unused or unwanted drugs to a temporary collection site for safe disposal.

Many pharmacy retailers have medicine disposal kiosks, which are a safe, anonymous way to dispose of unused or expired medications. You can see if there is a Walgreens medication disposal or CVS medication disposal kiosk near you by checking out their websites. You can also use the DEA’s search engine to find a location near you. Lastly, if you are in the area, there are Orange County prescription drug disposal locations available to drop off your unwanted medications. 

Mail Back Programs 

Some facilities are registered with the U.S. DEA and participate in mail-back programs that allow you to send back unwanted medication through the mail. As long as your prescription or other medicines meets the program’s guidelines and you follow the instructions for shipping, this is an option. By calling the DEA Registration Call center, you can find a drug collection site that participates in mail-back programs. 

Fentanyl Patch Disposal

Fentanyl patches are highly potent and can be lethal to someone if accidentally exposed. Due to this, it is crucial to dispose of them properly. If possible, your best option is to dispose of fentanyl patches through a take-back program. If there is not one available near you, the following steps can ensure safe disposal: 

  • To discard a used fentanyl patch, fold the patch in half with the sticky sides together. Then flush the used patch down the toilet immediately. Do not throw fentanyl patches into the trash can where pets or children can easily access them. 
  • To discard unused fentanyl patches, remove each new patch from its protective pouch and liner. Fold the patch in half with the sticky sides together and flush it down the toilet. 
  • Other patch medications can be disposed of the same way. However, some patch medications, like nitroglycerin and testosterone, should be thrown away instead of flushed. Always check the FDA flush list before disposal. 

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day 2022

If you have unused prescription drugs in your home, prevent your loved ones from accidental or intentional misuse by dropping them off at a Take-Back Program near you. The next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is October 29, 2022. 

There is always help available if you or someone you care about is struggling with a substance use disorder. Orlando Recovery Center offers comprehensive addiction treatment services that are customized to suit your unique situation and needs. Contact us now to learn more about our programs. 


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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.