Why is it important to dispose of unwanted medication properly?
Unwanted medication should never be flushed down the drain. Wastewater treatment plants are designed to remove solids and conventional pollutants from water—not pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals have been detected at low levels in streams, lakes, and rivers across the U.S.
Unwanted medication should also never be placed, as is, in the trash. Medications left in original containers and placed in the trash as-is could potentially fall into the wrong hands. When it comes to disposing of unwanted medication properly, you have a couple choices:
There are permanent drop-off locations for unwanted medications at many RI police stations (note that some are for town/city resident use only):
|Bristol Police Department||395 METACOM AVE||NO|
|Barrington Police Department||100 FEDERAL ROAD||NO|
|Burrillville Police Department||1477 VICTORY HIGHWAY||NO|
|Charlestown Police Department||4901 OLD POST ROAD||NO|
|Foster Police Department||182 HOWARD HILL ROAD||NO|
|Hopkinton Police Department||406 WOODVILLE ROAD||NO|
|Johnston Police Department||1651 ATWOOD AVE||NO|
|Lincoln Police Department||100 OLD RIVER ROAD||NO|
|Little Compton Police Department||60 SIMMONS ROAD||NO|
|Middletown Police Department||123 VALLEY ROAD||NO|
|Narragansett Police Department||40 CASWELL STREET||NO|
|North Kingstown Police Department||8166 POST ROAD||YES|
|Providence Police Department||325 WASHINGTON STREET||YES|
|Richmond Police Department||1168 MAIN STREET||NO|
|Tiverton Police Department||20 INDUSTRIAL WAY||NO|
|Warwick Police Department||99 VETERANS MEMORIAL DRIVE||NO|
|Westerly Police Department||60 AIRPORT ROAD||NO|
|Woonsocket Police Department||242 CLINTON STREET||NO|
You can also find RI pharmacies that take-back medicine at www.disposemymeds.org, or attend a DEA take-back event, in which more RI police stations participate, twice a year: www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback.
The RI Department of Health and the RI Department of Environmental Management have also approved a method for disposing medications safely at home. The steps are listed below:
- Take the medicine (prescription or over-the-counter) out of its original containers.
- Crush tablets or pills. Liquids, gels, ointments, or creams can be mixed with cat litter or used coffee grounds.
- Put the medicine into a disposable container with a lid or into a sealable plastic bag.
- Remove any personal information (including Rx number) on the empty containers by covering it with black permanent marker, or by peeling it off.
- Place the sealed container or bag in the trash.
- Place the empty drug containers in the recycling.
Never place needles or containers of needles in your recycling bin or cart. For proper disposal methods see www.rirrc.org/needles.