Like other substances, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be misused and abused. What does misusing a prescription or OTC medication look like?


Taking more of a medication than is recommended or prescribed.

Not Yours

Using a medication that is not prescribed to you, or that has been given to you or taken from someone else.

Just Poor

Using a medication for a reason other than it is prescribed or recommended for.

To prevent medication misuse, make sure you follow these safe use guidelines:

  • Talk to your doctor about the medication and its addictiveness

  • Do not take medication other than how it is prescribed

  • Lock your medications up

  • Do not share medications family or friends 

  • Do not sell medications 

Prescription and OTC medication misuse is a serious problem around the world. In fact, most people who use illicit drugs say that their addiction started with unsecured medications in the home. Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep your home medication safe, by properly storing and disposing of medications.

Safe Storage

Keep all OTC and prescription medications in one location in your home. This should be in a location that is out of sight and out of reach of children and teens. Store medications in a combination safe, locked cabinet, or locked drawer—not your bathroom medicine cabinet. You may consider using childproof lock boxes that are available at your local hardware store, or secure medication lock boxes. Finally, keep an inventory of the medications you have, as well as a count of the quantity of those medications, so you know if medications go missing.

Safe Disposal

There are several safe ways to dispose of medications. The first is to bring them to the medication drop box located in the lobby of the Naugatuck Police Department, which is available 24 hours per day, every day of the year. The drop box is theft-proof and constantly monitored, so you can feel confident that your medications won’t fall into the wrong hands. Medications left in the drop box are brought to an incinerator, so please do not drop needles or anything with a battery into the drop box for the safety of those handling the load.

Another way to dispose of medications is to use a medication disposal kit such as a Detera bag. Simply add pills or liquid to the contents of the bag and add hot water to the recommended line. Seal the bag shut, and it is safe to dispose of in your home garbage can. Detera bags work by neutralizing the active ingredients of medications, so if they fall into the wrong hands, they will not be able to be misused. Detera bags are usually available through the coalition, so if you are in need please contact Step Up Naugy!

It is also possible to dispose of medications at home without a disposal kit. You can also dispose of medications in your household trash by doing the following:

  • Keep the medication in its original container. Use a permanent marker or duct tape to cross out your personal information, or remove the label
  • Make the medication less appealing. Mix your medication with hot water to dissolve or dilute it. Add an undesirable substance, such as salt, ashes, saw dust, used coffee grounds, or kitty litter.
  • Contain and seal. Place the medication container inside of a larger container such as an empty yogurt or margarine tub to ensure that the contents cannot be seen and tape it shut.
  • Throw out the container in your trash can. Do not put the container in your recycling bin.

Why Not Flush?

It’s very important not to flush medication down the toilet! Flushed medications can get into our lakes, rivers, and streams. Research has show that continuous exposure to low levels of medications has altered the behavior and physiology of fish and aquatic organisms. Pharmaceuticals enter our wastewater from a variety of sources, including the flushing of unused medications. A nationwide study from 1999 and 2000 by the United States Geological Survey found low levels of drugs such as antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives, and steroids in 80% of the rivers and streams tested.