Prescription Medications: Safe Storage and Disposal

DEA Get Smart About Drugs OTC Resource

Don’t be an accidental drug dealer…

61% of people ages 12 and older who misuse prescription pain relievers get them from a friend or family member. Visit to find out where you can get a free drug-deactivation pouch to safely dispose of your prescription medications.


Prescription Drug Abuse

The abuse of prescription drugs and over-the-counter cough medicines is the fastest growing form of substance abuse. Locking your medications and disposing of unneeded medications are two important ways of helping prevent access to those who might abuse them.

Medication Take Backs

Medication take-back events provide an environmentally safe way to dispose of unneeded medications and keep them from being diverted for possible misuse.

What can you bring?  Expired and unused over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs. NO NEEDLES/SHARPS! Leave medications in original containers.

Although take-backs provide the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of medications, if you can’t make a take-back event, there are safe ways for you to dispose of your medications at home.

The Chesterfield Police Department, in partnership with SAFE, has collected over 19,000 pounds of medications, from 3,915 citizens, since take-back events began in 2010.

Nationally, prescription drug abuse kills more teens than cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines combined.

The 2014 survey of youth in Chesterfield County revealed that the percentage of youths abusing prescription narcotics, stimulants, sedatives and tranquilizers is still above national averages, but the data does show some decline in the percentage of medication abuse among students since our 2012 survey.  More Chesterfield youths are still abusing over-the-counter medications, such as cough medicine, more than are abusing prescription medications.

Friends and family are the most common source of medications misused by youths in the U.S. Around 70 percent of youths who reported misusing prescription stimulants, tranquilizers or sedatives in the past year said that they most recently obtained the medication from friends or family, with or without their permission.

What can parents do?

  • Educate yourself: Learn what types of prescription drugs can be abused. Ask the doctor or pharmacist when you receive a prescription whether it has the potential for abuse.
  • Talk with your teen: Find out what they know about the prescription drug or cough medicine abuse. Teens often think that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs, which is not true.
  • Set clear rules: Tell your teen to never take medications that have not been prescribed for them, share their medications with others or take their own medications in greater quantities than prescribed.
  • Safeguard all drugs at home: Control access by keeping prescription drugs in a locked container or cabinet, especially pain pills, anti-anxiety meds, anti-depressants, sleeping pills, stimulants such as Adderal and other abusable meds such as over-the-counter cough medicines, and monitor quantities. Ask friends and family to safeguard their medications as well.
  • Dispose of old or unused medicines: Do not flush drugs down the toilet. Mix with an undesirable substance such as used coffee grounds, place in a sealed bag or container and discard in the trash. Better yet, take them to a medication take-back.