If your medicine cabinet and bathroom drawers are stuffed with expired or unused medications, this weekend is the perfect time to clean them out: Saturday, October 27 is ‘Drug Take Back Day.’ It’s the 16th time that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has set aside a day for people to anonymously drop off unneeded and expired drugs.
The DEA considers this free biannual take-back day an important public safety measure to keep potentially dangerous drugs out of the wrong hands, including those of children and substance abusers. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that within 12 months, 6.2 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs — and many were obtained from a home medicine cabinet.
The DEA also hopes to prevent medications from contaminating the environment through improper disposal.
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You can search by zip code or city/county to find drop-off locations (no needles or liquids allowed) by using the DEA’s Collection Site Locator or call 800-882-9539. There were 5,842 sites available during the last Take Back Day in April, which brought in nearly 475 tons of unused meds. After tomorrow's event, the DEA expects its total collection since the program began in 2010 to reach 5,000 tons.
Big chains such as CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens have made it increasingly easier for customers to return unused medications year-round by adding drop-off boxes in many of their stores (you can find stores with drop-boxes on the CVS and Walgreens websites). The DEA also has a site where you can search your area for “controlled substance public disposal locations,” including many smaller pharmacies.