The Medicine Cabinet


The medicine cabinet: a cluttered mess of old prescription bottles that we all tend to forget about until we have to dig through it to find the Tylenol. However, this seemingly harmless storage unit can actually be the root cause of a widespread public safety problem.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that “According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.” Prescription drug misuse is a serious problem that can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose, and addiction. Appropriate medication disposal avoids medication misuse and helps protect the environment.

So how do you get rid of unwanted or unused medications? One method is to mix medications in a sealable bag with an undesirable substance (such as coffee grounds or cat litter), then throw that bag away in the garbage. It’s best to avoid flushing medications down the toilet or sink because many medications are not flushable and city laws often prohibit this practice to avoid medication residue tainting our water.


A very easy way to get rid of medications is by participating in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. You can get some spring cleaning done and make sure your loved ones are safe by dropping off old medications at convenient locations on Saturday, April 27th between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Medications are then discarded in a safe and appropriate manner.

Your local pharmacy is likely participating in this event to raise awareness about safe disposal of medications and many may collect medications all year. For more information and to find a drop off spot near you, you can visit

Written By:
Susan Castrogiovanni
Assistant Program Director - DREAM After School Program

If you or someone you know has a problem with prescription medications contact Breaking Free at 630.897.1003 for more information on the services that we provide.