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Trash Your Old Pills on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Trash Your Old Pills on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Dispose of unwanted medications anonymously and safely at a location near you.

For the ninth year in a row, law enforcement agencies are teaming up with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. On Saturday, October 26, around 6,000 locations across the country will be accepting prescription drugs for disposal. Collection sites will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., local time.

Nationwide, 937,443 pounds—more than 468 tons—of expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs were gathered during the last collection, held in April 2019. Since the first collection in 2010, the DEA has collected 11,816,393 pounds—5,908.2 tons—of prescription drugs.

A 2017 survey found that roughly 6 million Americans abused controlled prescription medication, with a majority of pills obtained from family members and friends. These drugs often come from home medicine cabinets. Disposing of drugs at events like the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a good way to keep prescription opioids and other medications out of the wrong hands and to help prevent drug addiction, overdose and accidental poisoning. Disposal is always free of charge and anonymous.

You can visit the DEA’s website to find a drop-off location near you, learn more about this year's event, and get information about treatment for substance abuse. Google has also launched their own locator tool to make finding your nearest collection site simple. Enter an address or zip code into the search bar for disposal opportunities in your area.   

If you can't participate in this year's take back, there are other ways to safely remove medications from your home.

  • Hand off unwanted medication at a DEA-authorized controlled substance public disposal location. Authorized collection sites may include pharmacies, hospitals and law enforcement buildings.
  • In a sealed bag, mix pills with dirt, used coffee grounds or kitty litter. Toss out with your household trash.
  • Certain medications can be flushed down the toilet, but it’s best to check the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of approved medications before heading to the bathroom.

There’s never a bad time to get rid of unwanted medication. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day occurs twice a year, usually in April and October.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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