What is prescription drug abuse?

Some prescription medications have psychoactive (mind-altering) or pain relieving properties and, because of that, are sometimes abused.

Prescription drug abuse happens when these medications are taken for reasons or in ways or amounts not intended by a doctor. This includes when the medications are taken by someone other than the person for whom they are prescribed.

Aren’t prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs safe?

People often think that prescription and over-the-counter drugs are safe, but that is only the case when they are taken exactly as prescribed and for the purpose intended by the doctor. When abused, these drugs can be addictive and put abusers at risk for overdose and other negative health effects.

What about my child?

According to Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, one in four teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime. Prescription medicines are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12-to 13-year-olds.

What can I do?

You have the opportunity to safely dispose of your own expired or unwanted medications and prevent the opportunity for teens to  access the drugs. Prescription drug abuse by any population requires access and opportunity. You can protect those you care about by removing access to the drugs you no longer need.

How do I dispose of my expired or unwanted medications?

  1. Gather unwanted or unused medicines in your home. See the list below for what is accepted or not accepted.
  2. Bring those medications to one of the permanent drop-off sites listed below.
  3. Drop the medications into the drop boxes provided at the sites.

Items Accepted: Prescription medications, all over-the-counter medications, pet medications, vitamins and supplements, medicated ointments, lotions, creams, oils, liquid medication in leakproof containers, homeopathic and herbal remedies and suppositories.


Items NOT Accepted: Illegal drugs, needles/sharps, syringes with needles, thermometers, IV bags and tubing, bloody or infectious waste, personal care products, empty containers, hydrogen peroxide, aerosol cans and inhalers.


Click here for a list of Drop Box locations in Illinois and Missouri. 




National Institute on Drug Abuse, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

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