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National Rx Drug Take Back Day - Opioids 102

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So you read our blog on how to identify what’s in your medicine cabinet, and are hopefully now trying to figure out how to dispose of your unused or expired medications.

Solution #1: Did you miss Prescription Drug Take Back Day in April?

We don’t yet know the grand total of prescription drugs turned in to DEA, but this year it was believed  April’s “Take Back Day” would hit the one million pound mark, which would bring the total collected since Take Back Day began in 2010 to 10 million pounds.

The next national Take Back Day will be in October, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait.  To find a location near you, visit the DEA’s site search page and enter your zip code or county, city, and state for the location nearest you.

Returning your unwanted medicines to a take-back program is the safest and most environmentally-friendly way to dispose of unused medication.

Solution #2: Find an Authorized Collector in your Community.

DEA’s site search page will help you find an authorized collector in your community. Many pharmacies offer this service at no charge – not just on Take Back Day.

Solution #3:  Disposal Kiosks at Pharmacies*

Many large chain pharmacies now have safe medication disposal kiosks so you can get rid of your medications without any assistance – also at no cost.  For example, Walgreens pharmacies now offer kiosks in many locations around the country.  You can check their website to find a location near you – or call the one nearest you.  They describe it as “just like dropping a letter into a mailbox.” 

Speaking of pharmacies, CVS, with The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, offers a community donation program where local police departments can apply to receive a drug collection unit to help their communities safely dispose of unwanted medications, including controlled substances.  

For other medications, some pharmacies and online retailers also sell postage-paid envelopes for customers to mail any prescription, including expired or over-the-counter medications to a disposal facility.  It’s worth noting that mail-in programs do not include medications that are a controlled substance.

Solution #4: Do-It-Yourself:

This is the least preferable solution, but if you don’t have access to a prescription drug take-back program in your area, follow these steps to get rid of the drugs in the household trash.

●       Remove the medicine from its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds, sawdust, or kitty litter.

●       Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty bag, or other container to prevent medicine from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.

●       Before throwing away the empty Rx container, scratch out or tear off any identifying information on the exterior. This protects your identity as well as your personal health information.

●       Do not flush medicines down the sink or toilet unless the prescription drug labeling or patient information that accompanied the medicine specifically instructs you to do so. Many communities prohibit this practice out of concern over the trace levels of drug residues found in rivers, lakes, and community drinking water supplies.

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends - often from the home medicine cabinet.  By getting rid of prescriptions you no longer need, you are helping to prevent the spread of drug addiction and the potential of unnecessary overdose deaths.

*References to any retailer do not imply endorsement by S.A.F.E. Project US.