Is it ok to flush leftover or expired drugs down the toilet?

No, most medications are not destroyed by the sewage treatment process and end up concentrating in the rivers and streams that the treated water is discharged into.  These drugs can affect aquatic life and can even end up in drinking water supplies further downstream.  To dispose of medications properly:

  • follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information that accompanies the medication. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.
  • if no instructions are given, throw the drugs in the household trash, but first: remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter:  the medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who intentionally may go through your trash.
  • put the drugs (or the mixture of drugs with an undesirable substance) in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
  • take advantage of community drug take-back programs (such as the one run periodically by the Windsor Police Department) that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal.