Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Teens
Medicine — even medicine that’s expired or seems like it would be harmless to most people — can be dangerous if not disposed of safely. It might fall into the wrong hands, along with your private health information (if it’s a prescription). Or kids or pets might find it and mistake it for treats.
Expired medicine might not work as well or even at all, which is risky if it is meant to be life-saving. It may get contaminated with bacteria, or break down into toxic chemicals.
The best way to get rid of medicine you no longer need is to take it to a medicine disposal program run by a pharmacy, community organization, or government agency. You can search online for drug “take-back” programs in your area or ask at your local police station.
If there’s no “take-back” program near you, throw the medicine out, either by putting it in the trash or flushing it down the toilet or sink.
Putting medicines in the trash: You can throw away most medicines after destroying them.
Flushing medicines: A few medicines are especially dangerous if taken inappropriately or accidentally, such as opioids. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends flushing these down the toilet as soon as they’re not needed if no take-back option is available.
You might have heard that pouring old medicine down the drain or toilet can contaminate the water supply and cause problems for people and wildlife. Researchers are still studying this, but so far have not found that flushing a few specific medicines harms the environment. Indeed, the potential for harm is much higher if they are not flushed.
Check the medicine label or the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine for instructions on how to dispose of it. Also, the FDA has a list of medicines to be flushed when a take-back program is not available (called the “flush list“).
Destroying medicines is easy, and only takes a few steps:
Talk to your pharmacist if you:
There are many downsides to experimenting with prescription drugs. Find out more in this article for teens.
Medicine doesnât cure ADHD. But it does help boost a person’s ability to pay attention, slow down, and have more self-control. This article for teens has details on how ADHD medicines help.
Medicines can cure, stop, or prevent disease; ease symptoms; or help in the diagnosis of illnesses. This article describes different types of medications and offers tips on taking them.
Taking responsibility for your own health care means understanding things like prescriptions. Read our tips for teens on filling a prescription.
Tips and advice for teens on refilling a prescription.
The DXM in cough and cold medicines can cause feelings like out-of-body sensations. But even though these medicines are sold over the counter, there are serious health risks of taking too much. Find out more in this article for teens.
Opioids are very good at controlling pain, but there are risks to taking them. If you’ve been prescribed a medicine that contains an opioid, find out how to use it safely.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.