Medication spilling out of bottle.

Quick Tips: Store and Dispose of Medicine Safely

Author: Behavioral Health Department
Date: 11/1/2019 11:37 AM

You can play a part in keeping our community safe from drug overdose with simple changes at home: make it part of your routine to store and dispose of medication safely.

Last weekend, the Opioid Safety Coalition collaborated with the California Highway Patrol to take back eleven boxes and more than 180 pounds of unused medication here in SLO County. You can play a role in keeping our community safe by storing and safely returning medication throughout the year. 

Simply put, medicines that are properly stored and disposed of are not available for accidental poisoning or misuse. That means keeping potentially dangerous substances out of the hands (or paws) of a curious toddler, a pet, house guests or even people who stop by your home briefly. Simple steps make it easy to do the right thing.

Store medicine safely. Keep medication safe and secure at home:

  • Take an inventory of the medications in your home every six months.
  • Store your medicine someplace that is convenient for you, but out of plain sight and not easily accessible to others.
  • Choose a location that is cool and dry. The bathroom is usually not a good place to store medicine, as it is often warm and humid.
  • If you have opioids, sedatives or ADHD medication in your home, consider storing these in a locked or well-hidden location. These medications are most commonly misused.
  • After you take your medication, put it back in its place. Never leave your medicine bottle out on a table or counter.
  • Keep your medicine in the bottle it came in, so you don’t confuse it with a different medication. If you use a weekly pill box, keep the original bottles so you can refer back to the dosing instructions, refill information, and expiration date. Never mix different medications in the same bottle.

Dispose of medicine safely and promptly. When medicine is expired or no longer needed:

  • Ask the pharmacist for a safe disposal “take-back” envelope. All pharmacies in SLO County either have a drug take-back kiosk or will give you an envelope that is postage paid and pre-addressed to a safe drug disposal facility.
  • Visit to find other authorized medicine disposal locations near you.
  • Drop off old or unused medication at National Rx Drug Take-Back Day in October or April. For more information, check or call 805-781-4278.

By safely storing and disposing of your medication, you'll be doing your part to prevent accidental poisonings and unsafe drug use here in SLO County. Learn more about local overdose prevention efforts at