Disposing of Prescription Drugs: Keeping your Family and the Environment Safe

April 29, 2022

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enough pharmaceuticals are prescribed to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for one month. Although these prescription pills were given under a doctor’s orders for a specific person, they often end up being misused. To avoid misuse, medications should always be used as directed and disposed of properly when no longer needed. Improper use or disposal can lead to significant medical complications, including poisoning or death.

You can protect your family and the environment by utilizing Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) authorized collection programs available in your community. These programs include local collections offered by pharmacies and police departments, mail-back programs, manufacturer-supported collection for specific medications and household hazardous waste collections.

The National Take Back Initiative was started by the DEA to encourage the public to return excess or expired drugs and help prevent misuse and abuse. The DEA began hosting these events in September 2010 as part of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act. This additional law was created in an effort to help control the prescription drug abuse epidemic.

The DEA also sponsors National Take Back Day events that occur twice annually, in the spring and in the fall. This spring the event occurs on Saturday, April 30 and encourages people to properly dispose of prescription drugs and: Keep them safe. Clean them out. Take them back. To find a Drug Take Back Day location, check your local retail pharmacies, hospitals, or law enforcement facilities or enter your zip code on the Take Back Day site.

There is also an easy search engine that you can use and enter your zip code or city and state to find a take back location near you available at any time, not just Take Back days – be sure and check with the site to find out their specific rules and hours for taking back unused medications.

If you can’t find a location to drop off your unused medications or pills, recommendations for disposing of them depend on the medication. Most medications will provide instructions for disposal on the drug information pamphlet provided by your pharmacy. You can also contact your pharmacist for help determining the safest way to dispose of any unused or expired medications.

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