HOW & WHERE TO DISPOSE OF UNWANTED PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLERS AND OTHER DRUGS
Never Flush or Drain!
Unused or expired prescription medications should never be flushed or poured down the drain. These potentially dangerous pharmaceutical substances can contribute to contamination of our water supply if not disposed of properly.
Drug Take Back Locations
To find a Drug Take Back location near you, use this interactive map.
How to Dispose of Unwanted Prescription Painkillers and Other Medications
Programs and Drug Take Back Day
Whenever possible, take your unused prescription drugs to a collection program or event – the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s DRUG TAKE BACK Days happen, at minimum, in the spring and fall of each year. You may safely dispose of controlled and uncontrolled substances, over-the-counter medications, ointments, patches, creams, non-aerosol sprays, vials, and pet medications at these events.
Local Police Departments
If your prescriptions contain narcotics or other controlled substances, contact your local police department to find out if the police will accept them. Some police departments will accept non-controlled substances too, but you should be sure exactly what yours will accept before dropping off items.
The Wisconsin DEA allows mail-back programs for unused medications. You can purchase mail-back packages from your doctor, pharmacy, or local police station. Legitimate packages should include pre-paid postage, unique ID numbers, and be pre-addressed to a location authorized by the DEA. Avoid leaving packages in unsecured mailboxes.
Wisconsin Drug Repository
Wisconsin allows certain pharmacies to take back drugs for cancer, and other chronic diseases, and re-issue them through the Wisconsin Drug Repository.
Household medical sharps should be managed separately:
Law Enforcement Options for Disposal of Sharps
- It’s a good idea for departments to either have signage directing the public where to drop off their sharps or to have a separate sharps box if they are willing to accept them. Do not have the public drop sharps in the permanent drop box with other medicines.
Have a large sharps container on hand in case someone brings sharps in container that does not meet DNR standards. (good: thick-walled plastic bottles with screw on caps or commercial sharps containers. Bad: bags, milk jugs or coffee cans). Have a tongs handy in case there is a spill and you need to pick up syringes to put them in the larger container.
- There are registered sharps collection stations listed on the DNR site. Law enforcement agencies can consult this list and contact the POC to make sure they are still current. If you do not see a local in your community, check with your local hospital, healthcare facility, pharmacy or health department to see if they will accept sharps. Any who are infectious disease generators can legally take sharps from the public without registering with the DNR.
- Check with your local EMS department as some take sharps for police departments.
- Check with your county solid waste department to see if they will accept sharps. Dunn and Jefferson have programs.
- Here are links to a flyer and more information from the DNR which gives the public guidance about sharps.
- Law enforcement agencies could work with a mail back program or hire an infectious waste hauler to dispose of sharps.