WASHINGTON - Medicines can heal, but in the wrong hands they can be dangerous.
A community take-back program is the best way to get rid of them, but they aren't always convenient.
If none are scheduled soon, Ulka Agarwal, a doctor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says to start by checking the prescription label.
"Many medications will instruct you as to how to dispose of the medication," she says.
If precautions are taken, most medications can be tossed in the garbage. Take it out of the bottle and mix it with something like kitty litter or coffee grounds so kids and pets don't get into it.
The rules are different for a few strong medications, which should be flushed instead.
"It is safest to flush these down the toilet," Agarwal says.
She says according to the FDA, there's no real risk to waterways like the Chesapeake Bay. Turns out the real problem is the drug residue that comes out of our bodies.
"There are more health effects due to human waste," she says.
WTOP's Paula Wolfson contributed to this report.
Follow WTOP on Twitter.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
What can happen to you when you don't get enough sleep.
Lil Wayne: I wasn't intentionally stepping on the U.S. flag. (Video)
This U.S. city is buying $30M worth of iPads for its students.
Meet the newest liligers - mom's a liger and dad's a lion. (Photos)