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Controlled Substances

Unwanted medications include prescription or over-the-counter drugs that are outdated, not wanted, or no longer needed. People often inherit prescription or over-the-counter drugs when a relative or friend has passed away.

Why is improper disposal dangerous?

Proper drug disposal is an emerging issue in the environmental arena. All medications applied or ingested may be excreted or washed into sewage systems and discharged to the environment. The risks posed to humans by long-term consumption of minute quantities of medications in drinking water, as well as the risks to the environment by continual exposure are unknown. Flushing unwanted medications down the toilet or throwing them in the garbage just adds to the problem.

Proper Disposal

Controlled Substances are drugs or chemicals whose manufacture, possession and use are regulated by by the government. In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration is responsible for suppressing illegal drug use and distribution by enforcing the Controlled Substances Act. Controlled Substances may include illegal drugs and/or prescription medications. Controlled substances from residents can only be collected and disposed of by law enforcement agencies. The law enforcement agencies listed below will accept unwanted medications at no charge if they:

  • Are in the original container with the name of the medicine clearly visible.
  • Are in a container that is not leaking and is capable of being sealed.
  • Have all patient information removed or obscured.

Take unwanted controlled substances to:

Remember: Always call before transporting unwanted medications. Not all medications can be taken to every disposal site. Some medications must be taken to special sites for proper disposal. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if your unwanted medication is classified as a controlled substance or call the Washington Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.


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