If you’ve picked up a prescription or over-the-counter medication in the past few years, chances are you’ve left any remaining supply on a shelf or simply tossed it in the garbage.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, neither one is a proper solution. Expired or unwanted medicines in the home can open the door for accidental ingestion by children, or someone who intends to use the medications for something other than their intended purpose could retrieve them from the trash. To eliminate those possibilities, the FDA suggests you dispose of old pills by mixing them in old coffee grounds, kitty litter, or dirt, sealing them in a bag, and then throwing them away.
A better option for controlled substances, if it's available in your area, is to take advantage of medicine “take back” locations found at pharmacies. These drop-off boxes are managed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and ensure that no addictive or dangerous substances make their way into the hands of anyone besides the intended recipient.
For medications that are particularly potent and might even be fatal when ingested by someone other than the prescription holder, the FDA suggests their urgent removal from the home by flushing them down the toilet. These are typically painkillers like Percocet, OxyContin, and Fentanyl.
However you do it, remember that the best practice is to make sure unused medicines don’t take up permanent residence on your shelf. And if your medication has specific disposal instructions in the label, adhere to those first.
[h/t Honey+ Lime]