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Safe Disposal of Medications

Why is Safe Drug Disposal Important?

Medication can play a vital role in treating certain conditions and diseases, but they must be taken with caution and only for the duration instructed by the prescriber. If there are unused portions of medication, it must be disposed of properly to avoid harm to people, pets, and the environment.

  • The non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as the most prevalent category of drug abuse in the United States, according to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
  • Pharmaceutical drugs, particularly controlled substances, taken without a prescription or a doctor's supervision can be just as dangerous as taking illicit drugs.

Safe and proper disposal will lessen the risk of people consuming or handling medications inappropriately or illegally and will prevent medications from entering the water supply and harming aquatic life.

The DC Board of Pharmacy and the Department of Health recommend:

  • Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers.
  • Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
  • Put the mixture into a disposable container, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag.
  • Conceal or remove any personal information, including the prescription number, on the empty containers by scratching it off, or covering it with black permanent marker or duct tape.
  • Place the sealed container with the mixture and the empty drug containers in the trash.


Contact Phone: 
(877) 672-2174
Contact Fax: 
(202) 727-8471
Contact TTY: 
Office Hours: 
Monday to Friday 8:15 am to 4:45 pm
Service Location: 

Health, Department of

GIS Address: 
2201 Shannon Place SE