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Safe Disposal of Narcotics

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What do I need to know about the safe disposal of narcotics?

Prescription narcotic pain medicines can be given in many forms. Some common forms are pills, patches, lozenges, and sprays. You may have leftover narcotics that were prescribed to you or someone you take care of. This may be because pain went away sooner than expected. Narcotics can also cause side effects that make a person stop taking them. It is important to dispose of any expired or leftover narcotics. This will prevent anyone from using the narcotic without a prescription. It will also prevent a child or animal from finding and using the narcotic by accident.

What is the best way to dispose of narcotics?

The laws vary by country and area. In the United States, the best way is to return the narcotics through a take-back program. This program is offered by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The following are options for using the program:

What are some other safe ways to dispose of narcotics?

The medicine may come with disposal instructions. The instructions may vary depending on the brand of medicine you are using. Instructions may come in a Medication Guide, but not every medicine has one. You may instead get instructions from your pharmacy or doctor. Follow instructions carefully. The following are general guidelines to follow:

How do I safely dispose of pills?

How do I safely dispose of patches?

How do I safely dispose of lozenges?

How do I safely dispose of sprays?

Sprays come with small disposal bags and a disposal bottle or pouch. Do the following to dispose of spray units:

Where can I find more information?

When should I call my doctor or pharmacist?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.