National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is recognized twice a year on the last Saturday in April and October.
The next Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, October 26, 2019.
Clearing out old medications, especially narcotic prescription painkillers, from the family medicine cabinet and properly disposing in a safe manner is one of the most effective ways of keeping dangerous drugs out of the hands of curious children, teenagers or troubled adults struggling with substance abuse issues.
Since 2010, National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day has provided a safe and effective way of disposing of these medications.
Sponsored by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the agency tasked with fighting illegal drug trafficking and distribution in the U.S., the biannual event has taken in nearly 12 million pounds of potentially deadly, leftover and unused medications.
Data from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that just fewer than 10 million people misused controlled prescriptions last year.
Many of these prescription drugs were taken from the medicine cabinets of families, friends and acquaintances.
Other studies, reported on by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), reveals that as many as 86 percent of young, intravenous drug users “had used opioid pain relievers non-medically prior to using heroin.”
Likewise, the opioid painkillers were obtained from family, friends or personal prescriptions.
The fact of the matter is that disposing of unwanted, leftover or unused medications is not just the right thing to do, but it may, ultimately, safe someone’s life.
4 Key Takeaways for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
There are many reasons to understand the importance of, and participate in prescription drug take-back programs, but these four are especially meaningful:
1. Prescription Take-Back Day is Twice a Year But Drugs Can Be Safely Disposed of at Any Time
The public awareness campaign on medication disposal is held twice a year on the last Saturday in April and October, but the DEA’s Collection Site Locator is available for use year round.
This makes it safe, easy, and convenient for anyone, anywhere in the country, to get rid of their leftover medications at any time of the year without having to wait for a drug take-back day.
When unused drugs or medications remain in the home for long periods of time, it increases the chances they will be taken for non-medical use.
2. Most Drugs or Medications Should Not be Flushed Down the Toilet
For many people, the first instinct is to flush unwanted meds down the toilet. However, this may be prohibited not only because the medication may be toxic, and also might go against local and state policies.
Even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides a list of medications that are recommended for disposal by flushing, it is still much better to take them to a proper collection site where they will be dispensed of in a safer and more effective manner.
3. Drugs or Medications Should Not be Thrown in the Trash
Similarly, disposing of prescriptions in the trash might be against state or local policies and should always be avoided if possible.
There are several reasons for not throwing medications in the trash if it all possible, with the first being that these could end up in landfills and possibly contaminate groundwater.
Even more important is the possibility that pets or other animals might dig through the trash and become sick or die from an overdose of prescription medications.
Sometimes it’s impossible to discard the drugs at a take back location, so if the trash is the only option, the DEA suggests removing the medication from the bottle and mixing it with coffee grounds, kitty litter or another undesirable substance and, then, placing the discarded drugs in a sealable garbage bag to prevent leaks.
4. Some Drugs or Medications are More Dangerous and Require Proper Disposal
Opioid pain pills or other prescription medications, like fentanyl patches, should only be disposed of at a qualified take-back location. These medications are potentially addictive and deadly for humans or animals that may come in contact with them.
The DEA also provides helpful resources, such as “Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine,” as well as a guide for how to properly dispose of unused medications on their site Get Smart About Drugs.
A 2018 poll found that nearly one in three people know someone that is addicted to opioids.
The rate of fatal opioid overdose deaths has skyrocketed from 21,000 to 47,000 in just nine years, killing an estimated 130 people every single day.
One of the most impactful actions that everyday people can do is safely dispose of their unused medications at an approved drug collection site nearest them, as soon as they no longer need the prescriptions.
Every April, October, and even year round, it’s crucial that we all do our part to keep our families and communities safe by getting ride of leftover drugs and prescription medications.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is a twice-annual reminder to do just that.