Say ‘Goodbye’ to Old Medicine

Don’t just toss or flush your old medicines

When sickness strikes, some of us take prescription drugs to get better. As time passes, we grow strong — eventually forgetting about the medicine we took to make us healthy again. The leftovers take up residence in our medicine cabinets until they’re rediscovered eons later. Chances are they won’t be needed again.

That’s when we’re faced with a dilemma: How do I get rid of this stuff? 

While some may throw bottles with remaining medicine in the trash, others might flush pills or liquids in the toilet or rinse them down their sinks.

Both options are pretty risky.

Throwing the medicine away as-is can be dangerous if it’s plucked from the trash and misused by children or consumed by pets. A better option is to crush pills and mix them with undesirable substances like cat litter or spoiled foods.

Some drug labels instruct people to flush leftover pills, but medicine may pose a threat to the environment by infiltrating the water supply. The FDA reports traces of pharmaceutical drugs are found in rivers, lakes and some community drinking-water supplies. Although a percentage of that comes from bodily waste, some of it comes from directly disposing pills via toilet or sink.

There are no local drug take-back programs and city and county recycling services do not take unwanted medicines or syringes and other sharps. But Leon County’s Hazardous Waste department offers complete instructions on proper disposal. Visit and click on “Household Hazardous Waste Information Cards” to download the information.

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