All Points Medical Waste Blog

Controlled Substances: Proper Disposal

Why safe disposal is crucial

The opioid crisis continues in the United States, and with it, so does the need for proper disposal of controlled substances. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported in 2020 that approximately 60 million people misused prescription drugs and used illicit drugs. Misuse of controlled substances are sometimes the result of people, either patients or staff, diverting them for illicit use rather than for their intended destination. In 2021, reports show that nearly 100,000 people died from overdoses of opioid or other controlled substances in the United States. Healthcare organizations and physicians can help reduce the risks by properly disposing of unused or expired opioids and other controlled substances.

Best practices for disposal of controlled substances

Healthcare facilities and any other organization that deals with controlled substances need to understand and follow the guidelines for proper disposal. Here are a few do’s and don’ts:

Guidelines for proper disposal

  • Train your staff on the mandates for proper management, storage and disposal
  • Keep detailed records on site of controlled substances–inventory, storage and disposal
  • Discuss options with patients on proper disposal, consider offering the option to bring back unused medications to your facility

What not to do with controlled substances

  • Never dispose of controlled substances by flushing them down the toilet
  • Do not throw in the regular trash
  • Do not throw in the drain, sewer or sink
  • Never discard controlled substances in sharps containers

Proper disposal of controlled substances is key to protecting your business and helping to mitigate the risks of accidental overdose and misuse. Government agencies, including the DEA and other similar organizations, have established regulations when it comes to the disposal of controlled substances. Medical facilities are mandated to follow these rules or risk violations and lofty fines. It is crucial that you understand and follow all local, state and federal laws pertaining to controlled substances and their safe storage and disposal.

All Points Medical Waste offers full service medical waste disposal. We serve medical facilities, physician offices, dental practices and numerous other types of healthcare organizations across South Florida. Give us a call today or complete the form on this page for more information.

Dawn Connelly

Dawn is the vice president of All Points Medical Waste. All Points Medical Waste is a family-owned and operated medical waste disposal and compliance company that has been serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beaches, and surrounding areas since 1994.
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