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Bitterpill > Medicine Disposal Medicine Disposal

The Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force has partnered with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to promote safe disposal practices in Indiana.

Safe Storage of Medication

Keeping medication in your house puts you and your family at risk, which is why it’s important to safely store the medication you need, and dispose of unused or leftover medication. Proper disposal and storage protects against the following:

  • Accidental poisoning: Young children or pets might ingest medication if they find it. Avoid an accident by keeping unused medications out of your house. In case of poisoning, contact the Indiana Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
  • Prescription drug overdose or death: Every 25 minutes, someone dies from a prescription drug overdose in America. Just one more pill, whether it comes from the street or the medicine cabinet, could lead to a tragedy.
  • Illegal use or theft: Giving or selling your prescribed medication to another person is not only misuse, it is illegal. As the epidemic of prescription drug abuse grows, theft   becomes more common. This includes identity theft from the personal information on prescription bottles. Dealers and addicts will even go through your trash. Protect yourself by properly disposing of your unused medication—don’t just throw it away.
  • Contamination of water resources: Flushing your unused medication or pouring it down the drains contaminates Indiana’s rivers, streams and lakes. This can have devastating results on the fish and aquatic wildlife of these ecosystems. Protect our environment by properly disposing of unused medication.

How to Dispose of Medicines Properly

1st Choice: Drug Take-Back Locations and Events


The Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force has compiled a list of Permanent Take-Back Locations throughout Indiana. You can also call your city or county government’s solid waste management district and ask if a drug take-back program is available in your community. Some counties hold household hazardous waste collection days, where prescription and over-the-counter drugs are accepted at a central location for proper disposal.

To find a Take-Back location closest to you, click here for the Drug Disposal Locator Tool.

2nd Choice: Household Disposal Steps


When it comes to drug disposal, we want to protect the environment as much as we want to protect human life. Landfills are specifically designed to keep trash in and humans out, protecting the outside environment and our communities. There are even special systems in place to protect the groundwater from any run-off from the landfill.

DON’T: Flush expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so.

DO: Return unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs to a drug take-back location. If a take back location isn’t accessible to you, follow the steps at this link for proper household disposal.

Information for Pharmacies


Federal regulations now allow pharmacists to collect Controlled Substances if they register with the Drug Enforcement Administration and meet certain security requirements. 

The Task Force and IDEM have partnered with the Yellow Jugs Old Drugs, operated by the Great Lakes Clean Water/U.S. Clean Water to encourage Indiana pharmacies to participate in the program to provide secure and responsible drug disposal locations throughout the State, helping to keep our water clean and our communities safe.  See the letter to Indiana pharmacists by clicking here.

Funding opportunities to institute Take Back programs are available with the Illinois Indiana Sea Grant Project.

Information for Disposal of Medication in Schools

Preferred disposal methods vary based on the given medication(s). School Nurses who are in possession of leftover and unclaimed medications should seek assistance from the school-based law enforcement officer (such as the School Resource Officer), and the school contact for waste disposal. For more information, click here.