Living 100

Inform patients about safe storage and disposal practices.

A. Safe Storage:

Per the National Safety Council, opioid medications need to be stored securely, preferably locked up just the way you would if you keep a firearm in your home:

• Choose a location in your house that is up and away and out of sight of children and visitors. Install a lock or use a locking medicine cabinet.

• Return medication to your secure location after every use. Avoid leaving medication or pill containers on countertops, tables or nightstands in open view where others can easily access them.

• Do not keep loose pills in easily opened plastic bags or containers in your purse, luggage or office drawer. Locking travel cases are available to carry prescription medicines.

B. Safe Disposal:

Per the National Safety Council, once an individual is finished taking an opioid painkiller, they should promptly dispose of them and not keep these medications for “later.”

• Take-back programs and events allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal.

• Many pharmacies offer mail-back programs where you can pick up a drug disposal envelope at their nearest store. Most pharmacies charge a small fee for a postage paid envelope.

• Avoid flushing prescriptions down the toilet or pouring in a drain because they can pollute water supplies. In some states, it is illegal to flush any medications.

For a list of drop off sites in Alameda County:

Go to 

For a list drop-off sites and mail back programs in Contra Costa County:

Go to