The Real Reason You Should Throw Out Old Prescription Medication

Keeping old or expired prescription medications can pose a risk to the health and safety of those around you. A friend or family member may accidentally take the wrong medication or intentionally misuse it. That's why it's important to safely dispose of any expired or unused prescription drugs (via GoodRx). Medications lose some of their potency and effectiveness after their expiration dates. How quickly this happens, however, depends on the type of medication and the condition in which they're stored.

It's also important to note that the expiration dates of certain medications matter more than others. For example, liquid antibiotics, insulin, and nitroglycerin lose their potency rather quickly and are therefore not safe to use at any point past their expiration dates. In addition, all antibiotics should be used when they're prescribed or thrown away when they're no longer needed (via Healthline). There is no need to save them for future use. Different antibiotics are used for different purposes and they should not be used to self-treat an infection.

How to get rid of old prescription medications

You can safely dispose of old or expired prescription medications by dropping them off at take-back locations set up by pharmacies and law enforcement agencies. To find a secure drop-off location, go to and type in your ZIP code (via GoodRx). You can also get rid of them at certain pharmacies across the country. Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy have medication disposal kiosks where you can drop off prescription medications, over the counter medications, medicated ointments and topical creams, and pet medications.

If you don't live near any take-back locations or pharmacy kiosks you can safely throw them out at home, but whatever you do, don't flush them down the toilet. That could taint the water supply. If you need to dispose of any prescription medications at home, put them in a bag or container with kitty litter, coffee grounds, dirt, or sawdust and throw it in the trash. This will make it undesirable for others to consume.