How to Get Rid of Unwanted Medications

There are currently 14 medicine drop off locations in San Mateo County

There are currently 14 medicine drop off locations in San Mateo County

Prescription medication can save lives, but also can take lives. Overdoses and accidental poisonings are just two tragic consequences of a drug problem that’s engulfed the nation — including San Mateo County.

The use of prescription medication is on the rise. This leads to a lot of pills in household medicine cabinets, easily accessed by anyone: unsuspecting children, curious teens, forgetful seniors, thieving addicts. Crime, along with physical peril, commonly stems from the misuse of these drugs. Due in part to unsecured, improperly stored prescription medications being readily accessible in the home, the abuse of prescription medications is a growing problem, particularly among teens.

On top of the improper storage of prescription medications, many people don’t know how to safely dispose of leftover medications when they’re no longer needed. Throwing leftover pills in the trash, or flushing them down the drain or toilet, can lead to environmental pollution, contaminated waterways and damage to municipal water systems.

San Mateo County currently has collection locations at most police stations, the locations of which can be found at Drop-off is free and requires no registration. There are certain steps to take to prepare the medications for drop-off, so please check the website first, and then call the station to make sure there is room in the container on the day you want to drop off.

Recently, the County Board of Supervisors passed a new ordinance intended to help expand options and locations for free, safe disposal of medications in our communities. This will help get unneeded medications out of the home and help protect your family from potential harm. This expanded program is anticipated to be in effect by the end of 2016. In the meantime, the police stations will continue to collection medications. For more information about the current or upcoming expanded programs, leave a comment or email us at

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