Expired Medication


Unwanted medications


Wanted for:
Contaminating waterways in the 1st Degree
Accidental Poisoning in the 3rd Degree


Known Aliases/Accomplices:
Controlled and non-controlled medication, expired medication, unused medication, pills of all sorts


Managing Medication

Though originally intended to help us, unwanted medications can turn out to be the most dangerous criminals of all! Whether simply unused or expired, unwanted medication can cause serious health problems to humans and animals if they fall into the wrong hands (or paws). Additionally, medication that is flushed down the toilet can impact the health of fish and other wildlife. Most medicines are not completely removed by wastewater treatment processes or septic systems. Proper disposal of unwanted medication will prevent consumption of the drug by people for whom the medicine was not prescribed and prevent environmental contamination of our waterways and soils. You have the power to protect your family and community’s health!


Proper Disposal of Medication

About one-third of medicines sold to households in Washington go unused every year -that amounts to about 33 million containers per year. There are three methods to dispose of unwanted medication to best protect the health of your loved ones and the environment: disposal via permanent medication drop-off locations, disposal via Drug Take-Back Programs, and disposal via the trash. Read more about these three methods below.

Permanent Medication Drop-Off Locations

Click here for a complete list of permanent drop-off locations.

Use our interactive map below to find a permanent location and directions to properly dispose of your unwanted or expired medication. Click and drag the map to to see different parts of metropolitan Washington.  To zoom in left click the map twice and to zoom out right click the map twice. Services provided are free and anonymous. Problems viewing the map? Try refreshing the page.


Disposal of Medication in the Trash Can


Check the pill bottle for any instructions on proper disposal. If none are present, proceed to the following steps.


  1. Remove medication from original containers. Do not crush tablets or capsules.
  2. Mix medication with undesirable substance like kitty litter or used coffee grounds. The drugs will be less appealing to children and pets, and obfuscate the medicines that some people may seek by going through the trash.
  3. Place mixture in a sealable, secure bag, can, or container.
  4. Throw away sealed container and contents into garbage.
  5. Scratch off all personal identifying information on the prescription label so that it is unreadable before recycling pill bottle or medicine container.


It is important not to give away unwanted medications to friends as doctors prescribe medicine based on a patient’s unique set of symptoms and pertinent medical history. A medication that works for you might be lethal to somebody else!




Drug Take-Back Programs

Courtesy of Dave Granlund www.davegrandlund.com


The majority of unwanted medications can be safely disposed of at medicine take-back events. Take advantage of events in your community that allow the public to properly dispose of unused medicines at a central location. Contact your county government’s household trash and recycling service to see if a take-back program is available in your community. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, working with state and local law enforcement agencies, periodically sponsors National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days. [image courtesy of Dave Granlund]


April 28th, 2018 – Saturday, April 28th, the public is encouraged to safely dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications at over 50 locations throughout the Washington D.C. region, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a nationwide event to promote the safe disposal of expired and unwanted medications. The initiative is 5664574981_baf92dc504_zbeing promoted in the metropolitan Washington region by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) and regional partners, including law enforcement agencies, water utilities, and health officials. Proper medication disposal keeps our communities safe by preventing drug abuse, accidental ingestion and the contamination of our water supplies. The service is free and anonymous.

To find the nearest medication disposal site, visit http://bit.ly/Medtakeback


For more resources, visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/index.html