Household Medicine Return Program

It's time to change the way our community thinks about prescription drugs

Medication plays a crucial role in how we care for ourselves and each other, but consumers often don't think about the responsibilities of owning drugs. If stored in the home, medications can make their way into the wrong hands. If not disposed of properly, medication can pollute our waterways, drinking water, and Bellingham Bay.

Do NOT flush, trash, or store unwanted, unused, or expired medications

Prevent Accidental Poisonings
Clean out medicine cabinets to reduce the risk of accidental misuse and exposure to children. Overdoses from prescription narcotics are a leading cause of death in Washington State. Abuse of narcotic pain relievers is rapidly increasing and half of prescription drug abusers report obtaining the drug from a friend or relative.

Protect Our Water
Medications sent down toilets or sink drains can get into our bay, adversely affecting fish and aquatic wildlife. Medicine placed in trash cans ends up in landfills and can leach into ground water.

Return Household Medications

Expired and unwanted medications may be dropped off at participating pharmacies. Narcotics and other controlled substances must be taken to law enforcement. There is no fee for this service.

How to return your medicines  

  • Check the Accepted Items list.
  • Leave medicines in their original containers.
  • Mark out any personal information, if you wish.
  • Take medicine to pharmacy counter.
  • Pharmacies cannot accept controlled substances.
  • Take controlled substances to a participating law enforcement location.

Accepted Items

  • Household prescriptions and samples
  • Over the counter medications
  • Medicine for pets
  • Medicated ointments/lotions
  • Vitamins
  • Inhalers
  • Unopened EpiPens

See the Med Return rack card  for more information about what is accepted.

Participating pharmacies in Bellingham

  • Haggen Pharmacy, Fairhaven Market - 1401 12th St
  • Haggen Pharmacy, Barkley Village - 2900 Woburn St
  • Haggen Pharmacy, Meridian - 2814 Meridian
  • Hoagland Pharmacy - 2230 Yew St.
  • Unity Care NW Pharmacy - 218 Unity St.

Walgreens Safe Medication Disposal Kiosk
The Walgreens Pharmacy at 1070 E Sunset Dr offers a Safe Medication Disposal Kiosk for over-the-counter and prescription medications, including prescribed controlled substances and narcotic pain relievers. Their program does not accept liquids, inhalers, needles, or aerosols.

Safe Disposal of Prescription Narcotics and Controlled Substances

Narcotic pain relievers and prescribed controlled substances, not including illegal narcotics, are accepted at the Bellingham Police Department during weekday business hours.

Accepted items

  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Ritalin
  • Vicodin
  • Xanax

See the Bellingham Police Department's take-back poster (PDF) for more information about what is accepted.

Single- page Flier with Drop-off Locations Map (PDF)

Whatcom County locations

City of Ferndale

Materials for Agency Use

The following materials are available for educational use in promoting the Medicine Return Program.

Development of these materials was made possible through a grant from the Washington Department of Ecology.


The City of Bellingham Medicine Return Program received the "Hazardous Materials Program Excellence Award" from the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association (NAHMMA), Northwest Chapter, in 2013. 

More Information

Costs associated with collection, disposal, and management of the program are funded by the City of Bellingham Public Works Department.