The best way to dispose of unused medication is through community disposal programs. Otherwise, mixing the medication with a substance such as coffee grounds, sealing it in a container, blacking out all identifying personal information on the bottle and disposing it in a trash can is acceptable, says the FDA.
Consumers were once directed to flush unused or expired medication down the toilet in order to prevent children, animals and others who could be harmed by the medication from ingesting it, says the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Due to potential environmental harm, this is no longer recommended, except in the case of certain highly addictive medications.
Medications that should be flushed down the toilet include fentanyl, methadone, oxycodone, morphine sulfate and others with high potential for harm and abuse, according to About.com. In these cases, the risk to individuals is greater than the potential for environmental harm.
Drug take-back programs can be found by researching city or county trash and recycling programs, according to the FDA. Sometimes doctors' offices can take back drugs. Other times, pharmacies will accept them for disposal. Pharmacists may know of take-back programs in the community when other health professionals cannot provide any drug disposal information.