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How to Dispose of Unused Medicines

  • Written by Staff

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)–Both prescription and over-the-counter medicines should be properly disposed of when they expire or are no longer used. Proper disposal is necessary in a manner that presents the least safety risk to you, your family, waste workers, pets and wildlife, and the environment. The Park Forest Health Department and Park Forest Environment Commission remind you to follow these guidelines for the safe disposal of unused medications.

Guidelines for Disposal of Medications

  • Follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information that accompanies the medication. Some medications like powerful narcotic pain relievers and other controlled substances include instructions for flushing to reduce the danger of unintentional use or overdose and illegal abuse. DO NOT flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless the drug label or patient information instructs you to do so. Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for a list of medications that SHOULD BE flushed at:
  • If you take medication through inhalers, read the disposal information carefully as some should not be punctured or thrown into a fire or incinerator. If you take several medications with inhalers, read the disposal instructions for each medication as they may vary.
  • If no disposal instructions are given, throw the medications in the household trash, BUT FIRST:
    • Take the medication out of the original container and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. The medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash.
    • Put the medication in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
  • Before throwing away the empty medication container, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.
  • If you are not sure of how to properly dispose of a medication, talk to your pharmacist.

REMEMBER: Never give medications to friends or other family members. Doctors prescribe medications based on a person’s specific symptoms and medical history. A medication that works for you could be dangerous for someone else.

Source: FDA Guidelines (Updated October 14, 2009)

Download a copy of this document here.

Park Forest Clubs and Organizations

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Historical Society
Park Forest Historical Society

Health Department

Nurses Plus

Freedom Hall

Freedom Hall Nathan Manilow Theater

Tall Grass

Tall Grass Arts Association


Kiwanis of Park Forest

Nurses Club

Park Forest Nurses Club


Park Forest Baseball