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Wednesday October 23, 2019
Saturday October 26 2019 = National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

DEA National Prescription Take Back Day

The disposal service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

  The DEA's Take Back Day:

On Saturday, October 26, between 10 AM and 2 PM, collection sites across the US will take all kinds of medications, no questions asked. Google made this map that will continue to be updated with collection sites to help you find a convenient location.

Find a Drug Disposal Location Near You:
  Google Recover Together:

Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands. That's dangerous and often tragic. That's why it was great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in - safely and anonymously - a record amount of prescription drugs.

The April 2019 Take Back Day brought in 937,443 pounds (468.72 tons) of unused or expired prescription medication. This brings the total amount of prescription drugs collected by DEA since the fall of 2010 to 11,816,393 pounds.

17th National Take Back Day: April 27, 2019


  National Prescription Drug Take Back Day :

Before disposing of prescription medicines using a drug take back option, be sure to remove all personal information on the label of pill bottles or medicine packaging.

  National Take Back Initiative:

All medicines dropped off at these locations will be destroyed and discarded. If you are interested in donating your medication instead, try to determine whether pharmaceutical donation and reuse programs exist in your state.

NCSL Prescription Drug Donation State Programs

If you can't make it this time, you can always go to Google Maps ( and type in "drug disposal near me" to find your nearest drug disposal site throughout the year.

  Or Find the Permanent Locations via the DEA:

What Items Are Not Accepted at Take Back Events?
Keep in mind that these items generally are not accepted at the drop box. Check with the collector ahead of time to determine what items are specifically not accepted.

  • Needles or other sharps
  • Asthma inhalers
  • Mercury thermometers
  • Iodine-containing medications
  • Illicit drugs or substances (including marijuana which is still a schedule 1 drug under federal law), and any prescription medications obtained illegally.
  How to Safely Dispose of Your Old Medications:

How to Dispose of Medicines at Home:
When a take-back option is not readily available, there are two ways to dispose of prescription and over-the counter (OTC) medicine, depending on the drug.

Flushing medicines:
Because some medicines could be especially harmful to others, they have specific directions to immediately flush them down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed, and a take-back option is not readily available. Some prescription drugs - such as powerful narcotic pain medicines and other controlled substances - have instructions for flushing to reduce the danger of overdose from unintentional or illegal use. One example is the fentanyl patch. This adhesive patch delivers a strong pain medicine through the skin. Even after a patch is used, a lot of the medicine remains. That's why the drug comes with instructions to flush used or leftover patches.

Flushing Drugs and the Water Supply:
Some people wonder if it's okay to flush certain medicines when a take-back option is not readily available. There are concerns about the small levels of drugs that may be found in surface water, such as rivers and lakes, and in drinking water supplies. "The main way drug residues enter water systems is by people taking medicines and then naturally passing them through their bodies," says Raanan Bloom, Ph.D., an environmental assessment expert at the FDA. "Many drugs are not completely absorbed or metabolized by the body and can enter the environment after passing through wastewater treatment plants." The FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency take the concerns of flushing certain medicines in the environment seriously. Still, there has been no sign of environmental effects caused by flushing recommended drugs. In fact, the FDA published a paper to assess this concern (, finding negligible risk of environmental effects caused by flushing recommended drugs.

Disposing medicines in household trash:
Almost all medicines, except those on the FDA flush list (, can be thrown into your household trash. These include prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in pills, liquids, drops, patches, creams, and inhalers.

Follow these steps:

  1. Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This makes the medicine less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through the trash looking for drugs.
  2. Put the mixture in something you can close (a re-sealable zipper storage bag, empty can, or other container) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.
  3. Throw the container in the garbage.
  4. Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.

FDA Steps to dispose medicine in trash

US Food and Drug Administration
  Where and How to Dispose of Unused Medicines:

Environmental Protection Agency
  How to Dispose of Medicines Properly (PDF 2 pages):

  Drug Disposal Information:

DEA Resource
  Proper Drug Disposal Quiz:

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