Expired and unused prescription medications are more often than not thrown in a medicine cabinet and can sit there for years before you ever even think about them again. This can lead to accidental misuse of the medication as a person fills new prescriptions and places them in the cabinet near the old ones. Taking expired medications or the wrong medications can cause all sorts of health problems and old medications might interact negatively with new medications a person is taking. Somme medications can be downright dangerous if taken by the wrong person.
There's also the possibility of abuse, as prescription pain killers and muscle relaxers can fall into the wrong hands, and the possibility a kid could get into them and end up overdosing on them. Safe disposal of prescription drugs ensures they don't accidentally or intentionally get misused or abused. Instead of keeping potentially medications around "just in case," it's much safer to dispose of them properly and get new medication the next time you need it.
Read the Label
Many prescription drugs have specific disposal instructions printed right there on the label. If the label doesn't say how to dispose of the drugs, then there's a pretty good chance it's somewhere on that medicine information paper the pharmacist gave you and you never read. If there are specific instructions for disposal, follow them. They're on there for a reason.
Drug Take-Back Programs
Check with your local city garbage service to see if there's a drug take-back program in place. A number of communities have opened up no questions asked drug take-back programs where people can anonymously turn in unused drugs for proper disposal. This keeps them out of landfills and the sewage system and is the best way to dispose of unused medications if a program is available in your area. If not, the Drug Enforcement Agency occasionally sponsors Drug Take-Back Days and has stations set up in cities nationwide.