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Michigan OPEN

Safe Disposal

Managing unused, unwanted, and expired medications is a safety and environmental concern. There are simple and safe alternatives, like take-back events and local disposal sites.

Why dispose?

Protecting your family and your community is the number one reason to safely dispose of your medications.

  • Every 10 minutes a child visits the emergency room for medication poisoning
  • Three in five teens say prescription medication is easy to get from their parents’ medicine cabinet
  • 12.5 million people ages 12 and older have misused opioids in the past year


How to safely dispose of opioids

You can make a positive difference for your loved ones and community by following these steps for opioid disposal:

  • Find and attend a Take Back Event in your community
  • Use a home disposal option (listed below)



  • Drug Deactivation Bags
    • Place your unused medications in the deactivation bag, follow the instructions on the bag for deactivation (such as filling the bag with water), and place the bag in the garbage once the medications have been deactivated. 
    • This disposal option allows medications to be deactivated safely and immediately. This is a great option for individuals who are recovering from surgery and may not be able to leave the house for other safe drug disposal options.
    • Make sure you carefully read drug deactivation instructions on the bag. Do not put too many pills in one bag, or they may not deactivate properly. 
    • One option is Deterra System drug deactivation pouches. Learn more about how to use Deterra here: 
    • Research has shown that 6% of patients who received usual care reported disposing of opioids, compared with 33.3% who received education regarding disposal locations and 57.1% of patients who received a charcoal activated bag. The odds of opioid disposal were almost four times higher among participants who received a charcoal bag compared with those who received usual care. Read more about our research here.
  • Mail-Back Envelopes
    • OPEN is currently running a program to give out free disposal envelopes to organizations in Michigan that serve kids.
    • Place your unused medications in a mail-back envelope, seal the envelope, and place it in the mail. Many envelopes offer pre-paid postage with the cost of the envelope. Once mailed, you can track the return of your medications to a destruction facility. 
    • This disposal option allows medications to be tracked and safely destroyed, and it only requires a trip to the mailbox. Make sure you write down the tracking number before mailing your medications so you can track them. While you can track your medications, the medications cannot be traced back to you; this is an anonymous medication disposal option. 
    • There are multiple great options: American Rx Group mail-back envelopes; Stericycle mail-back envelopes; and Sharps Compliance, Inc. TakeAway envelopes. 
  • Last Resort:
    • Mix opioids (do not crush) with used coffee grounds or kitty litter in a plastic bag and throw in household trash.
    • Scratch out personal information on prescription labels and dispose of original medicine containers.

Our Disposal Programs

Partner with OPEN to offer a safe place to dispose of unused medication. Take a look at our disposal programs.

Disposal Programs