Safeguard and Dispose of Opioid Medications

Safeguard and Dispose of Opioid Medications

Bob* keeps his morphine in a safe to prevent his children and anyone else from accessing it. A patient of BWH’s Pain Management Center, he is one of an estimated 100 million American adults affected by chronic pain.

“If you have a gun in the house, you should keep it locked up,” he says. “Same thing with medication like this.”

“Misuse of these medications often starts in the medicine cabinet at home,” says Jackie Somerville, PhD, RN, senior vice president of Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer at BWH. “Saving these prescriptions when you don’t need them anymore is a recipe for disaster. Dispose of them as soon as you no longer need them.”

Nurse educators developed a handout on the safe use of opioids, urging patients to secure their medications and properly dispose of leftover or expired pills.

How to dispose of your medications

  • At BWH: Drop off in the receptacles at the outpatient pharmacy at 45 Francis Street, Boston (M-F, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.). Another receptacle is planned for 850 Boylston Street in Chestnut Hill.
  • Police: Call your local police station and ask if a drug take-back box is available.
  • DEA’s National Drug Take-Back events: Visit or call 800-882-9539 for collection site information.
  • Learn more online: Visit and type these keywords in the website’s search area: medication disposal

*The patient’s last name has been withheld to protect his privacy.