A prescription for a controlled substance grants you permission to possess and use it for a limited period. If you have any left after you have completed taking the drug, you must dispose of it properly.

According to Bitterpill Indiana, failure to properly dispose of a controlled substance once you no longer need it could expose you to criminal charges, drug overdose or accidental poisoning of a family member or pet. You may not know the correct way to dispose of your medications, so here are answers to questions you may have.

Can you return the drug to the pharmacy?

Pharmacists who meet certain security requirements and have registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency can collect unused controlled substances under federal law. Otherwise, you can only turn in unused drugs to law enforcement.

Can you flush the drugs down the toilet?

If the patient information you received when filling the prescription specifically says to put the drugs down a toilet or drain, you may do so. Otherwise, you should avoid flushing drugs because it could contaminate lakes, rivers and streams.

What are your other disposal options?

You can dispose of unused medications in your household trash after following a few steps. Place the capsules or tablets, uncrushed, in a sealed plastic bag or a similar container mixed with an unpalatable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. Then, throw the bag into your household trash. Before disposing of the medicine packaging, scratch out all the personal information on the prescription label. This helps to protect your identity from people who may go dumpster diving.