Pink, blue, and green pills spilling out of pill bottles

Do you have old, expired, unwanted, or unused prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs in your medicine cabinet? As the opioid epidemic continues to impact Maryland families, safe disposal of medications is a top concern.

9.9 million Americans misuse prescription drugs, according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, with the majority coming from family, friends, and the home medicine cabinet.

When you throw away pills safely, the medications don’t end up in the wrong hands and you help prevent substance use and the potential for an overdose.

Medication can also cause environmental problems when improperly disposed of in the trash or toilet.

Why Do You Need To Dispose Of Medication?

211 Maryland has seen a 57-percent increase in opioid-related calls in the last three years. Of all substance abuse calls, the majority are looking for counseling and inpatient treatments.

Our call specialists use our vast database of essential resources to connect callers with the best programs for their unmet needs.

Preventing drug misuse from ever happening is one of the best ways you can make a difference in the opioid epidemic.

Why get rid of drugs safely?
1. Keeps drugs out of the hands of teenagers or adults.
2. Prevents them from being stolen or sold illegally.
2. Prevents poisoning of children and pets.
3. Protects the environment

How To Get Rid Of Prescription Drugs In Maryland

Whether you have old medications (prescription or over-the-counter) in your home or a family member who died has medications in their home, there are free ways to dispose of them without throwing them away in the trash.

Get A Free Medication Disposal Bag

You can dispose of prescription drugs at home by taking certain precautions, through a pharmacy take-back program or with a disposal pouch.

211 Maryland and the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of Maryland are partners in stopping the opioid epidemic. RALI provides free disposal pouches that allow you to safely dissolve medication at home.

You fill the sealable pouch with medication, add a little water, shake it and throw the pouch away.

The bag contains carbon which deactivates the medication making it safe to throw in the trash.

Text MDHope to 898-211 to request a free disposal pouch. Press 1 for education/prevention and then 3 for safe prescription disposal.

211 Maryland offers text message alert programs which provide region-specific resource information or provide disaster alerts. Text STOP to the same number to unsubscribe. Full SMS terms at https://211md.org/sms/ will also apply.

Drug Take-Back Day

Every year, there are drug take-back events where you can drop-off your prescription medications to have them safely disposed of. They’re held each fall and spring.

The next drug take-back day is Saturday, October 29, 2022.

Search the Drug Enforcement Agency’s database by Zip code to find a local drug take-back site in Maryland.

Some drugstores and police departments have pill disposal boxes that you can use any time during the year.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has a ZIP code search to find a local disposal box that’s always available.

Walgreens also has its own search for drug kiosks that are available during pharmacy hours.

Several Maryland police departments have drug boxes that allow an individual to walk in and dispose of medications at any time. Search for a Maryland drug box.

You can also search the controlled substance public disposal database to find a location near you that accepts prescription drugs.

How To Throw Away Old Medication

If you can’t find an ongoing drug disposal site near you, can’t wait for the next take-back day and don’t have access to a drug disposal pouch – you can flush some medications down the toilet or throw them in the trash.

Again, it’s best to properly dispose of them if possible.

The drugs go to a wastewater treatment plant when poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet. These plants are not designed to routinely remove medications. As a result, medicine can leech into groundwater, rivers, and streams, getting into drinking water sources.

FDA Flush List

Some drugs are so dangerous when in the wrong hands and so commonly misused that the Food and Drug Administration created an approved flush list. Only flush medications on this list if no other options are available.

These medications can cause death from one dose if taken inappropriately. The FDA believes the risk of accidental exposure far outweighs environmental concerns for certain drugs. So, it’s better to flush these drugs than wait for a take-back day.

The other option is to mix the medication with cat litter or coffee grounds and sealing it in a disposable container. This may be an empty yogurt container or a sealable bag. Remove the sticker on the medication bottle or use a permanent marker to remove identifiable information and throw the empty bottle away separately.

Fourth, request a disposal pouch. Text MDHope to 898-211 to request one.

211 Maryland offers text message alert programs which provide region-specific resource information or provide disaster alerts. Text STOP to the same number to unsubscribe. Full SMS terms at https://211md.org/sms/ will also apply.

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Find Hope And Support

The MDHope texting program provides opioid-related resources and support for individuals, families and professionals. The free, on-demand texting service connects Marylanders to the resources they need for detox, treatment and safe drug disposal.

If you know someone who is using drugs or are seeking help for yourself or a client, text MDHope to 898-211.

211 Maryland offers text message alert programs which provide region-specific resource information or provide disaster alerts. Text STOP to the same number to unsubscribe. Full SMS terms at https://211md.org/sms/ will also apply.

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