Medication disposal is a very important environmental and safety issue. Disposing unused or expired medications also helps promote safety by reducing the amount of medications in the home that children or pets potentially may ingest unintentionally and prevents the misuse and abuse of medications by others. There are three ways that patients may dispose of their unused or expired medications. Patients may dispose of the medications themselves, they can take advantage of the National Take Back Days, or they can drop medications at the Fort Bragg Provost Marshal.

The best way patients can dispose of their unused or expired medications is to follow some simple steps:

1. Place the medication in a Ziploc bag or other disposable container.

2. Add water to the Ziploc bag.

3. Add some type of absorbent material such as kitty litter, dirt, sand, or coffee grounds.

4. Tape the Ziploc bag or container shut.

5. Remove any identifying information and place in the regular trash.

The method above can be used for both controlled and non-controlled medications. The FDA also recommends flushing some authorized medications down the sink or toilet to expeditiously remove them from the home. The FDA has a list of medications that may be flushed down the sink or toilet at the following link.

Patients may also take advantage of National Take Back Days. Fort Bragg participates in North Carolina’s Operation Medicine Drop every year. Patients may bring all their unused or expired medications to a drop off point located near them. Fort Bragg has Operation Medicine Drop in the spring and the fall. Last year the post collected over 290 pounds of medications for turn in and disposal. The next Operation Medicine Drop should be around March 21 and is usually held at the North Post Exchange.

“It is very important that people clean out their medicine cabinet, so that children are not at risk for ingesting medications unintentionally. They should also ensure that medications are stored away from children in a locked cabinet or box,” said Lt. Col. Veronica Hager, assistant chief, Department of Pharmacy.

“It is very important for us to educate our military community on the safe, convenient, and responsible ways of disposal of prescription drugs. There are dangers of keeping unused and expired medications in the house. Not only is there a potential for abuse of these medications, but also these medications can be harmful to others that the medications were not intended for. By following the several alternatives for disposing of unused medication, we can eliminate the risk of prescription drug abuse or accidental poisoning, added Col. Edward Showalter,” chief, Department of Pharmacy.

Currently, Military Treatment Facilities are not authorized collectors and are not authorized to take back medications from patients due to Drug Enforcement Administration restrictions, but the Provost Marshal on Fort Bragg has a drop box that patients may bring unused or expired medications to turn in. The Provost Marshal is located on the corner of Butner and Armisted in Bldg. 2-5634.

The lobby is open 24 hours daily for medication drop box turn in. Other locations that patients may turn in medications include the Fayetteville Police Department and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

A list of permanent drop box locations may be found at the following link:

It is very important that patients take control of their medications and dispose of them appropriately when no longer required or expired.

The easy disposal method above, the National Take Back Days, and the drop off box at the Provost Marshal are three options for Womack beneficiaries. Disposing of medications appropriately will help prevent unintentional ingestion from children or pets and prevent diversion and abuse.