Safely Dispose of Unused or Expired Medicine

Many people have old, unused or expired medications at home. Old drugs can change in strength, or lose their effectiveness, and medications that are safe for you can lead to drug misuse or addiction if taken by other people. It’s time to clean out the medicine cabinet – safely! Here are some drug disposal options to consider and instructions for getting rid of old, expired, unwanted, or unused medicines.

 Drug Take Back Sites

The best way to dispose of most types* of old, unused, unwanted, or expired medicines (both prescription and over the counter) is to drop off the medicine at a drug take back site.  Locations can be found at or

Other Options for Drug Disposal

If you cannot get to a drug take back location promptly, or if there is none near you, there are other options.

  1. Check to see if the drug is on the FDA flush list. If it is, your next best option is to immediately flush these potentially dangerous medicines down the toilet only when take back options are not readily available
  2. If the medication is not on the flush list, you should follow these steps:
  • Request a DisposeRx packet here.
    • How to use:
      • Add warm tap water until medicine vial is up to 2/3 full;
      • Empty packet contents into vial, replace cap and shake for 30 seconds;
      • Delete all personal information on the prescription label;
      • Discard in trash.
  • Another option is to mix medicines (liquid or pills; do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds;
        • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
        • Throw away the container in your trash at home;
        • Delete all personal information on the prescription label of empty medicine bottles or medicine packaging, then trash or recycle the empty bottle or packaging.


For more information, call the South Dakota Opioid Resource Hotline 1-800-920-4343 or search the Helpline Center Resource Database:


 Disclaimer: This HelpSheet is developed by the Helpline Center. HelpSheets provide a brief overview of the designated topic. For more information, call 211 or text your zip code to 898211.

Updated: June 2023