Deterra: The product that now lets you dispose of your unused prescription medication in your own trash.

Growing up, my grandmother kept a collection of unused prescribed medications in the kitchen cabinet, slowly growing over time. I have fond memories of spending time at her house with my brothers during my childhood and I remember seeing this collection. I never considered exploring it. However, now that I am working in substance use prevention, I wonder what would have happened if my siblings and I got curious and reached into that cabinet.

One third of people ages 12 and up who use drugs start with prescription medication misuse (National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2014). This could be due to many factors, one of them being storing prescription pills in an insecure location just as my grandmother did. Even if you follow prescription instructions carefully and hide the pills that you don’t use in a “secure place”, young family members, friends, or visitors may get curious. Now that I’m an adult, I also have my own medications that have sat around collecting dust. Prescription medications can’t easily be thrown away in the trash, and even with disposal facilities available, often times they’re inconvenient or inaccessible. So how do we help people to stop stocking up on old or unused medication? There may now be an answer – Deterra.

This year at the 2018 Indiana Public Health Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) offered attendees free Deterra, a convenient and environmentally friendly product that allows you to get rid of medication in your own trash. To use Deterra, you open a pouch that contains proprietary MAT12 carbon, which causes medication to become insoluble and inactive, and just add water.  Within 8 hours, Deterra is already 89% effective at breaking down prescription medications. 28 days after use, there are just trace amounts of medication behind. Compared to the alternatives recommended by the Office of National Drug Policy including sawdust, kitty litter, or coffee grounds, Deterra is 4 times more effective (Fowler, 2017).

Although Deterra is relatively new to the market, they’ve managed to keep prices down. They offer three different packages ranging in size from small to large priced from $14.97 to $20.97, all of which include three individual pouches. If you also have an assortment of medications sitting in your home, Deterra is an easy method of disposal that can help you remain environmentally conscious and take steps to reduce the risk of prescription misuse. I have already dropped off one pack to my grandmother, and I plan on getting more. To get more information, access their website at:


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