medicine tidy up

Time to Tidy Up: A Guide to Safe Drug Disposal

November 1, 2023

How often do you clean out your medicine cabinet?

There are so many reasons why we might have medicine in our cabinets that we don’t use anymore. Whether our doctor changed our medicine and we have some of the old medicine left over, or whether we had surgery and have leftover pain medication we no longer need, it is so important that we know how to dispose of these medications properly. When we keep leftover medications in our homes, we increase the likelihood of children and pets getting ahold of the medicine, ingesting it, and possibly experiencing an overdose or other serious side effects.

We all know someone who holds onto all their extra medications “for a rainy day.” Maybe this person thinks it will save them money later or help a relative or friend in need one day. However, just like with food, medications have an expiration date that we should all be careful to follow. Medications may become useless or even toxic to the body past this expiration date. Some medications that can cause harm to the body after expiration include certain liquid antibiotics, heart medications, insulin, eye drops, epinephrine, and aspirin ( Haven’t cleaned out your cabinet in a while? It’s time to get started!

At one time, people used to dispose of unused and expired medications by flushing them down the toilet. We all must work together to stop this from happening! When medication is flushed down the toilet, it gets in the water supply and subsequently finds its way into our drinking water.

So, what is the safest way to clean out your medicine cabinet?

The answer is simpler than you might think! Organizations like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS), LRADAC, pharmacies, and police departments have worked hard to make medication disposal easier by placing medicine disposal boxes in high-traffic areas within communities. You must take your unused or expired medications (liquids, pills, or patches) to your local medicine disposal box and drop them off. Once the box is full, a DEA officer will pick up the medications and take them to be destroyed in an incinerator.

safely dispose of medicines drop box

Find a convenient medicine disposal solution.

Thoughtfully positioned medication disposal boxes simplify the process of keeping our community safe. This dependable and easily accessible solution guarantees that individuals can responsibly and securely dispose of their unwanted medications.

If you can’t access a medication disposal box, consider using Deterra pouches.

If you or someone you know cannot take their medications to a drug disposal box, LRADAC can supply you with Deterra pouches for free. These pouches allow you to place unused or expired medication into the pouch, fill it with water, and throw it into the trash for disposal. The contents of the Deterra pouch will deactivate the medication, making it safe for disposal in your normal household garbage. Deterra is also environmentally friendly! To request Deterra pouches, contact LRADAC’s Prevention department at 803.726.9351. Now that you know how to dispose of unused and expired medications, we hope you will take these steps to keep your home and community safe.

If you need Deterra pouches, please contact LRADAC’s Prevention department at 803.726.9351.

LRADAC is the designated alcohol abuse and drug abuse authority for Lexington and Richland Counties of South Carolina. The public, not-for-profit agency offers a wide array of prevention, intervention and treatment programs in locations convenient to residents of both counties. The agency has a budget of approximately $10 million and serves more than 5,000 clients per year.