According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. Even worse, access to these drugs were obtained through friends and family, frequently by means of a home medicine cabinet. To combat this public health issue, law enforcement agencies across the country participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day (October 26, 2019) to give the public a safe and convenient avenue for properly disposing of unused, unwanted, or expired prescription drugs.
Since its inception, Take Back Days have gathered more than 11 million pounds of medication. This coordinated effort helps prevent potential accidental poisoning, misuse and overdose. It also decreases the likelihood these drugs will end up in our water supply from improper disposal methods. Disposal at drop-off sites are anonymous and free, with no questions asked.
Click here to locate a collection site near you. You can also call the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Office of Diversion Control Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539 for more information.
Drug Disposal Guidelines
If you are unable to attend a Take Back Day event near you, there are additional ways to properly dispose of prescription drugs.
- If available, follow disposal instructions given on the prescription drug labeling.
- Remove the medication from its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance, like coffee grounds or kitty litter. Then, place the mixture in a sealable bag or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
- Do not flush medication down the sink or toilet unless the prescription drug labeling instructs you to do so.
For your own safety, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription drug to make it unreadable. This protects your identity and personal health information.
Drug Poisoning First Aid
Drug poisoning can occur from exposure to illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs. There are as many emergency department visits for prescription and over-the-counter overdoses as there are for illegal drug overdoses.
Signs of a possible drug poisoning include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Throat or abdominal pain
- Decreased response
Always call 911 if the person is unresponsive or having difficulty breathing. Begin CPR immediately if needed.
If the person is alert, call 1-800-222-1222 to connect with a local poison control center 24 hours a day. Contact the poison control center before the person looks or feels sick. Don’t wait for additional symptoms.
To learn more about first aid treatments, click here to find a CPR, AED and First Aid Instructor near you.