En español | Spring-clean your medicine cabinet with Saturday's national Drug Take Back Day in mind — an opportunity to dispose of expired or unused medications at locations throughout the country.
The twice-yearly event, organized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), allows anonymous dropoff of unneeded and expired prescription drugs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27.
"DEA's free and anonymous Take Back Day gives people the opportunity to safely and securely remove these medications from their medicine cabinets where they could be easily accessed, stolen and abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens,” says Katherine Pfaff, a DEA spokesperson.
Those who wish to participate are encouraged to drop off over-the-counter or noncontrolled prescription solid medications, such as pills and patches, that will later be incinerated. The program does not accept illicit drugs, sharps, needles or liquids.
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"In 2017, opioids were involved in more than two-thirds of all overdose deaths. Much of the opioid drug abuse in the United States starts with misuse or abuse of prescription drugs in the home, which has contributed significantly to the ongoing opioid epidemic,” Pfaff says.
To find one of the 6,000 drop-off locations closest to you, search by zip code or city/county on the DEA's Collection Site Locator.
At the last Take Back Day in October, the DEA collected 457 tons of prescription drugs and surpassed its goal of 10 million pounds collected since the first Take Back Day in 2010.
If you are unable to dispose of your medications this weekend, drugstore chains such as CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens have drop-off boxes in their stores year-round. The DEA also provides a search option for “controlled substance public disposal locations."
Why you shouldn't throw drugs in the trash or down the drain:
- Medications thrown in the dumpster can be removed by people seeking to illegally use or sell them.
- Medications in the trash can be found and consumed by children or animals.
- Once a medication is down the drain or in a landfill, the drugs can escape into the ground and groundwater, polluting the environment and posing health hazards to humans, plants and wildlife.