Disposal FAQ’s

Proper medication disposal kiosks and take-back events provide safe and responsible ways for people to discard any unused or expired prescription drugs kept in their homes. Here are a few commonly asked questions about prescription drug misuse and disposal.

What is prescription drug misuse?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA),  Misuse of prescription drugs means taking a medication in a manner or dose other than prescribed; taking someone else’s prescription, even if for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain; or taking a medication to feel euphoria (i.e., to get high).* The term non-medical use of prescription drugs also refers to these categories of misuse.

The three classes of medication most commonly misused are1:

  • opioids—usually prescribed to treat pain
  • central nervous system [CNS] depressants (this category includes tranquilizers, sedatives, and hypnotics)—used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
  • stimulants—most often prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Misuse of prescription drugs can have serious impact on health. According to NIDA, increased prescription drug misuse trends are reflected by elevated emergency room visits, overdose deaths associated with prescription drugs3–6, and treatment admissions for prescription drug use disorders, the most severe form of which is addiction. Among those who reported past-year nonmedical use of a prescription drug, nearly 12 percent met criteria for prescription drug use disorder.1 Unintentional overdose deaths involving opioid pain relievers have more than quadrupled since 1999 and have outnumbered those involving heroin and cocaine since 2002.

Why should I dispose of my unused medications?

  • Loss of efficacy
  • Risk for misuse

How should I dispose of my unused medications?
After locating the prescription drug disposal location closest to you, remove your personal information from the packaging, then drop any unwanted or unused medication (including opioids) in the slot of the disposal kiosk. If a prescription drug disposal location is not accessible, please request a prescription drug disposal bag in the disposal locator tool.

What medications can I dispose of?

  • Any unused or prescription medications
  • Pet medications
  • Vitamins and dietary supplements

I live in an assisted living community and take my own medicines. I have prescription medicines that I no longer need. How can I safely dispose of them?
If you are responsible for disposal of your own medicines, please use the Rx disposal locator tool to request a prescription drug disposal bag be sent to your residence. Disposal bags are available in 3 sizes, please select the size representing your need.

How can I safely dispose of sharps?

Discarded needles and other sharps can pose a health risk to the public and waste workers, if not managed appropriately.

Ohio’s EPA has a set of guidelines that can help you safely, and effectively dispose your household sharps.

Infectious wastes generated by an individual from their own medical care at home can be disposed of with your regular household trash.  Syringes should be packaged to prevent injury. You can purchase medical-grade sharps containers at most pharmacies. You can also use any rigid, leak-proof, puncture resistant container with a tight fitting lid, such as detergent bottles, bleach bottles, two liter bottles, plastic juice containers and coffee cans (if you tape the lid shut on the can). Label the container with the word “SHARPS” on all sides in big letters to help protect your waste hauler from injury.

If you need more information, see Ohio EPA’s guidance document “Disposal Tips for Household
Generated Sharps,” available on their Web site at www.epa.ohio.gov/portals/34/document/guidance/gd_462.pdf

If you have additional questions, feel free to contact Ohio EPA’s Division of Materials and Waste Management at (614) 644-2621.

Please contact Tessa Miracle at tmiracle@interactforchange.org with any questions.