How to Dispose of Liquid Drugs?

Do you have a cabinet full of drugs and medications that are no longer in use?

Remember, your drugs are yours alone. What is safe for you may not be safe for someone else.

If you are looking to dispose of liquid drugs that are expired or unused, you can use a drug take-back program or simply do it at home.

Why Liquid Drugs Should Be Returned if They are Old or Unused

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency started the National Take-Back Initiative.

The goal of this initiative is to ensure that no one overdoses or abuses drugs accidentally or on purpose.

This is done by urging the public to get rid of useless drugs lying around their house.

As more and more research emerges on the risk of addiction to opioids and other pain killers, people are making more of an effort to safely dispose of unused drugs.

Did you know that opioids are the most common drugs that are accidentally consumed by children?

Studies show that 3 in 5 teenagers know that they can easily find painkillers in the medicine cabinets of their parents.

By disposing of drugs properly, we can ensure that children are kept safe and do not abuse medication.

How to Dispose of Liquid Drugs – Drug Take-Back Program

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Program is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) all over the world.

You will find that a number of communities have their own drug take-back programs.

The best way to dispose of liquid drugs is to contact the law enforcement officials in your area.

They can help you look for a location close to you. You can also ask a DEA to help you find a DEA-authorized collector in your neighborhood.

If these options do not work for you, you can always get in touch with a pharmacist. Some pharmacies allow individuals to drop off drugs on-site in boxes.

This method ensures that you safely dispose of any liquid drugs that you might have lying around at home.

Every year, 4 billion prescriptions are written in the United States. 1 out of 3 drugs goes unused.

The drug take-back program came about in 2010. Since then, they have gathered 2,500 tons of unused, unwanted, or expired liquid drugs.

Even though this number may sound surprising, there are even more unused drugs lying around in the homes of individuals.

Hence, authorities have placed permanent drop boxes in communities all over the state so that people can dispose of their unused medication whenever they want and at any time of the year.

How to Dispose of Liquid Drugs at Home

If none of the options above are available, there are two other ways you can dispose of drugs at home, based on the kind of drug it is.

Flush the Liquid Drugs

Some drugs are more harmful than others.

These drugs usually come with special instructions to flush them immediately down the toilet or sink when they are not being used.

To figure out if you need to flush the drugs in your house, look at the label.

If you find nothing relevant on the label, read through the patient information leaflet that came with the drug.

You can also search for the drug on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

Here, you will find a list of drugs that need to be flushed. However, if the drug is not on the flush list, do not make the mistake of flushing it.

Throw the Drugs in the House Trash

If you cannot find a take-back program, you should know that most drugs, except those that are on the FDA flush list, can be disposed of in your household trash.

This includes over-the-counter (OTC), as well as prescription liquid drugs and drops.

Here is what you need to do if want to throw drugs in the trash:

  • Separate the drugs from the containers they came in. Then, mix them up with something that is not desirable, such as dirt, coffee grounds, or pet litter. This ensures that no child or pet consumes the medicine. Moreover, in case someone goes through your trash, they will not be able to recognize the drug.
  • Once the mixture is ready, pour the mixture into a resealable zip lock bag or in an empty container or drink can. This will ensure that the drug does not spill or leak out.
  • Dispose of the container in the garbage.
  • Ensure that the drug packaging does not contain any of your personal information. This is important as you must protect your privacy and identity. Dispose of the packaging by tearing it up.

In case of any questions about the drug, get in touch with a pharmacist or health care provider.

Does Flushing Drugs Contaminate the Water Supply?

Many people wonder if it is okay to dispose of certain drugs by flushing them down the toilet.

According to studies, surface water, such as lakes and rivers, as well as drinking water supplies, contain small amounts of drugs.

Usually, drugs enter the water system when people consume them and naturally pass them through their bodies.

Lots of drugs do not get 100 percent metabolized or absorbed by the body.

They are then flushed out, entering the environment once they have passed through the wastewater treatment facilities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the FDA ensure that they address any concerns regarding the flushing of drugs.

However, so far, no environmental effects have been reported to ban the flushing of liquid drugs.

The FDA also published a paper in which researchers showed that the flushing of drugs causes negligible effects on the environment.

In another 2017 study, researchers studied the effect drugs that have been placed on the FDA’s flush list would have on the environment once they have been flushed.

It was found that the drugs, when flushed, do not have a significant impact on the environment or human health. This means that they can be safely disposed of in the toilet.


It is important to dispose of liquid drugs in the correct manner.

Pets and small children are always at risk of consuming these medications if they are not disposed of properly.

Drugs can be harmful and also, in some cases, fatal if they are misused or consumed by accident.

One of the best ways to dispose of medication is by taking them to a registered drop-off collection area or asking someone, ideally a professional waste handler, to safely collect these drugs from your house.

If these ways of disposal are not possible, you can flush the drug down the toilet, as long as it is on the FDA flush list.

For medications not on this list, you can dispose of them in the trash, as long as you take the correct measures.

Remember, drugs disposed of in the trash must be in special containers that do not break loose easily.

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