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How to get rid of leftover prescription opioids


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Doctors have prescribed painkillers to millions of people in the United States and other parts of the world, but those prescriptions often outlast the pain they're meant to subdue. 
Continuing to take painkillers after the pain has mostly subsided increases the risk of addiction. Right now, 2.5 million Americans are addicted to painkillers, and 500,000 of them have died due to an opioid overdose in the past 15 years. 
Perhaps you have half a bottle of painkillers left over from getting your wisdom teeth removed, or knee surgery. It sits in the cabinet gathering dust and expiring. So how do you legally get rid of all the extra pain pills in your medicine cabinet?
The Food and Drug Administration has several guidelines based on the kind of pills you're taking. 
The good news for those of you with pain pills lying around: You can probably just flush them down the toilet (though you shouldn't throw them in the trash). 
Putting them in the trash makes it possible for someone to find and ingest them, which the FDA considers too dangerous for anyone who has not been prescribed those painkillers. Some opioid-based painkillers can easily cause an overdose for anyone not used to the exposure.
Flushable medications include Oxycontin and many painkillers that use fentanyl, methadone and morphine. The specific medications are listed on the FDA's website.
Flushing is easy, but it's not the preferred method of disposal. 
The FDA asks those with prescriptions to hand over their remaining pills to medicine take-back programs that are often hosted by local law enforcement agencies or the Drug Enforcement Administration. Those programs, however, aren't always accessible. You can find options by searching for drop-off zones around your home.

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