There are safe and secure ways to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs. Do you know what they are? Take the quiz below and test your knowledge.

The Arkansas Prescription Drug Take Back program sponsors two statewide “take back” events every year. The events provide both a safe disposal service and an ongoing educational program that encourages Arkansans to dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs in a safe, secure, no-cost way.

There are many reasons why you may have leftover prescription medicines. About a third of all prescription medicines sold go unused. The doctor may change a family member’s medicine to find one that’s better for them. Large amounts of medicines are often leftover after a serious illness or after the death of a family member. Over-the-counter medicines also need to be properly handled and disposed of safely. Several over-the-counter medicines (e.g., ibuprofen, Tylenol) are on the top 10 poisoning list.

The next Arkansas Take Back event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26 at more than 130 participating locations statewide.

Find a local drop-off location at

In addition to the spring and fall events, some collection sites are available year round, thanks to a partnership with the Rotary Clubs of Arkansas.

Drug Disposal Quiz

1.    What’s the best way to dispose of medicines?

A.    Flush them down the toilet

B.    Throw them in the trash

C.   Crush them and mix with coffee grounds or kitty litter and put in the trash

D.   None of the above


Leftover medicines are toxic waste. They pose a danger to people, pets and the environment if they are not disposed of properly. The correct and safest way is to bag your unwanted drugs and take them to a “take back” disposal location.

If flushed or thrown away, toxic drugs can get into Arkansas’ beautiful waterways and affect our drinking water.

Trash disposal is not secure and only transfers toxic drugs to our landfills. It is important to keep narcotics and other highly addictive and dangerous drugs away from children, teenagers and even neighborhood pets who may “investigate” your outside trash can. Pets have been poisoned by medicines thrown in the trash. The Animal Poison Control Center handled more than 46,000 cases of pets exposed to medicines in 2009. Even if pills are crushed or adulterated before they’re thrown in the trash, the drugs retain their biological and chemical activity and can still get into the environment. Trash disposal simply puts the environmental problem of these persistent toxic chemicals onto future generations.

 Medicine take-back programs offer the only secure and environmentally sound way to dispose of leftover medicines. However, if it’s not possible to get your drugs to a “take back” event, the Food and Drug Administration recommends this method. Remove drugs from their prescription bottle or container, mix with coffee grounds or cat litter and dispose of in the household trash pickup.

2.    Wastewater treatment facilities can destroy virtually any drug they process.




Wastewater treatment facilities are not capable of destroying drugs that are flushed down the toilet or sink. Most drugs pass through treatment plants and contaminate our surface, ground and marine waters.

3.    What does the pharmaceutical industry do with unwanted drugs?

A.    Incinerates them at very high temperatures at permitted facilities

B.    Ships them to third-world countries where local doctors give them to patients who cannot afford to purchase meds

C.   Stores them in DEA warehouses for 25 years, then buries them

D.   All of the above

ANSWER: A. Unneeded drugs dropped off at “take back” locations will be taken to permitted facilities and incinerated.

4.    Where is the safest place to store medicines?

A.    In the original container, in your bathroom medicine cabinet

B.    In a dry, dark area of your kitchen pantry area

C.   In a locked medicine cabinet in a room that is not subject to steam or other moisture

D.   In a plain paper bag in a dresser drawer


Storing them in an unsecured medicine cabinet provides unauthorized access by curious children, visitors or teens looking for a “buzz.” Unsecured medicine storage in your home can contribute to the epidemic of medicine abuse and accidental poisonings.

5.    Why is it not safe to crush unwanted medicines?

A.    The person crushing them is at risk of exposure to the drug through skin contact or by breathing in the dust

B.     Many medications are designed to release in the body over time, and crushing pills can release a dangerously high dose

C.   The pill dust may endanger other family members and pets in the home, and some medications can be especially harmful to children and women of childbearing age

D.   All of the above

ANSWER: D. Take your unwanted drugs to a “take back” location.