The Safe Way to Dispose of Old Medications

Old medications — expired, unused, unwanted, discarded pills, tablets, creams, lotions — continue to be an ongoing, everyday problem in Northeast Ohio.

  • If the drugs are in your home, they pose a hazard to children and pets.
  • If you flush them, they contaminate the local water supply and give your neighbors unsuspected doses of narcotics, hormones, antibiotics, steroids, and other potentially dangerous substances.
  • If you toss them into the trash, they may end up in the hands of scavengers who will resell them.
  • If they make it to the landfill, they become toxic waste that contaminates groundwater.

Until recently, safe disposal of old medications has meant waiting for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take-Back Initiative. Now, however, rather than waiting for the next National Take-Back Day, Cuyahoga and Lake County residents have much better options.

Cuyahoga County

Under the new Sheriff’s RX Drug Drop Box Program, Cuyahoga County residents can deposit unused, unwanted, or expired prescription drugs at drop boxes located at participating local law enforcement agencies across Cuyahoga County.

The Sheriff’s RX Drug Drop Box Program accepts prescription drugs except needles and liquids.

Click here to find Cuyahoga County drop boxes for your location, and click here more information about the program. Click here for information about disposing of other unwanted medications, including needles, liquids, and over-the-counter preparations.

Lake County

Lake County residents can take their unused, unwanted, or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs to one of the seven Lake County Opiate Task Force drug disposal drop-off bins.

For more information about the Lake County program, including drop box locations, operating hours, and accepted materials, see my May 27, 2012 blog post. Lake County residents can obtain refrigerator magnets listing drop box locations and accepted materials from the News-Herald reception desk (map) and the Mentor Discount Drug Mart pharmacy department (map).

Lake County Opiate Task Force Refrigerator Magnet

Lake County Opiate Task Force Refrigerator Magnet

Unused drugs are hazardous waste: keep them out of the wrong hands … keep them out of our water … keep them out of the landfill.

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