6. Disposal of Rx Drugs


An important component in protecting your children, family, friends and community from the risk of Rx drug abuse is proper disposal. Below are three ways that you can safely and securely dispose of your Rx and over the counter (OTC) drugs and at the same time protect your community, water supply and environment.


Drug Drop Box

The drug drop box is the most effective, efficient, secure, and environmentally friendly way to dispose of your out of date or unused Rx and OTC drugs. In Georgia drug drop boxes are located in Sheriff’s and Police Departments across the state in 153 counties. Most of these drug drop off locations are in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To view a complete list of the over 180 available drug drop box locations and hours of availability across the state, please visit the Georgia Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Initiative (GPDAPI) website. The GPDAPI is an Rx drug abuse prevention initiative directed and implemented by The Council on Alcohol and Drugs. ONLY a certified law enforcement officer can handle and discard Rx drugs when they are collected from a drug drop box.



Many mail back programs are provided by pharmacies, but for a price. The cost can average $3.00-6.00 per envelope. The user simply discards the unwanted drugs into the envelope and places it in the mail.

Caution! – Do not use this option without using a legally approved envelope. You can only use a mail-back envelope that has been officially approved and certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the U.S. Postal Service.


Self Disposal: Flushing of Certain Drugs or Disposal in Household Trash

Do not flush Rx drugs down the toilet or drain unless specifically instructed on label or by accompanying patient guide.

  • Information on drugs which can be safely flushed can be found on the here on the FDA website. However, state regulations vary.

If a drug is not approved for flushing, follow these federal guidelines for proper disposal.

  1. Take Rx drugs out of original containers.
  2. Mix drugs with an undesirable substance (e.g., used cat litter or coffee grounds).
  3. Put mixture into disposable container with lid (e.g., empty margarine tub) or sealable bag.
  4. Conceal/remove personal info, including Rx number, on empty container by covering with a permanent marker or duct tape, or scratch off.
  5. Place sealed container with mixture and empty drug containers in trash.


Safe storage of Rx and OTC drugs is critical to reining in this epidemic. A federal government survey revealed that more than 70 percent of Americans who abuse prescription pain medications get them from friends or family members. Accessibility is the number one contributing factor to all misuse and abuse of Rx and OTC drugs. It is time that you keep your Rx and OTC medications safe by locking them up so that only the people that are supposed to use them use them. Consider this, because of ease of access:

• Pharmaceutical drug overdoses in the U.S. have surpassed all illegal drug overdoses of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine combined.
• 90% of all teens who abused pharmaceutical drugs obtain their drugs from the medicine cabinet or from a friend (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

Click HERE to learn more about securing your Rx and OTC drugs. Have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you have your Rx and OTC drugs behind lock and key.

Next: Part 7: How is Georgia Addressing the Crisis?