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Frequently Asked Questions


When over-the-counter or prescription medications are no longer needed, they should be removed from the home. Unused medications can fall into the hands of small children and cause accidental poisoning. More than one million children under age 5 are treated each year in the United States for poisoning caused by household chemicals and medications. Older children and teens may be tempted to experiment with easily available medications, causing harm to themselves or their friends. Nationally, one in five teens has reported abusing prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them.


Medication disposal should be done in a manner that minimizes the chance of misuse and also protects the environment. Flushing medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash can cause pollution of lakes, streams and water supplies. Medications collected by the Project are disposed of in a specialized industrial landfill, offering a high degree of environmental protection.

Review the lists of medications and materials that are, or are not, accepted. Gather up your unused, unwanted and expired medications, take them to one of the project locations and drop them into the collection box. Medications may be left in their containers. While it is not necessary to remove labels or scratch out personal information, it never hurts to take steps to protect your identity.


If you have very large quantities of medications, please help conserve space in the collection box by separately trashing or recycling packaging. Put pills in a zip top bag, seal it tightly, and drop the bag into the collection box. Trash or recycle the empty pill containers. If there is other packaging that can be easily removed, such as cardboard boxes, please trash or recycle it rather than placing it in the collection box.  Remove or scratch out personal information before trashing or recycling containers and packaging.


It is important to follow the instructions posted at each collection box. Due to strict Drug Enforcement Administration regulations governing the disposal of narcotics and other controlled substances, such medications cannot be deposited in project boxes. Consult the posted list of prohibited controlled substances. If you are still unsure, ask your pharmacist if any of your prescribed medications are considered controlled substances.

  • Prescription medications (except for narcotics or controlled substances)

  • Over-the-counter medications

  • Medication samples

  • Pet medications

  • Vitamins

  • Liquid medication in glass or leak-proof containers

  • Medicated ointments and lotions

  • Inhalers

  • Narcotics and other controlled substances

  • Bloody or infectious waste

  • Personal care products

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Aerosol cans

  • Thermometers

  • IV bags

  • Needles and other sharps

  • Plastic shopping bags

  • Empty containers

  • Business waste


Prescribed narcotics and other controlled substances (Percocet, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Xanax, Ritalin, Adderall, and many others, including generics) can be disposed of during the DEA’s “National Take-Back Initiative: Got Drugs?” events held one day in the spring and fall of each year.  These events will also collect other prescribed medications and over-the-counter drugs.  To find a date and location in your area visit the DEA Drug Disposal Index.

Several local law enforcement agencies provide permanent drop boxes for the disposal of prescribed narcotics and other controlled substances.  These agencies will also collect other prescribed medications and over-the-counter drugs.  A list of participating agencies, and the items they cannot accept, can be found by viewing the Prescription Drug Collection Box Locations document.


If you don’t have access to an event or program that collects prescribed narcotics or other controlled substances, do not flush! Instead, dispose of the medications in the trash as follows:


  1. Take unused, unneeded or expired medicines out of their original containers. Mix them with an undesirable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds.
  2. Remove or destroy all identifying personal information, including prescription number, on the empty medicine container labels. You can destroy personal information by covering it with black permanent marker or scratching it off.
  3. Wrap the medication mixture and the empty containers in newspaper to help conceal them and place them in the trash.
  4. Be sure to keep children or pets away from the trash before it is picked up and hauled away.

The project is intended to last through the year 2014. However, the project could run for a longer, or shorter, period of time depending upon availability of operating funds. 


Please call 303-692-2903 or email cdphe.hmmedtakeback@state.co.us if you have questions or would like more information. 


For safety reasons, the Project and most other medication take-back events and programs cannot accept needles and sharps. Guidance on their proper disposal can be found by reviewing the Solid Waste Compliance Bulletin regarding infectious waste items.




 Please contact us if you have any further questions