National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day This Saturday

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day This Saturday

The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has set aside Saturday April 30th as Prescription Drug Take Back Day in response to the alarming statistics on prescription drug abuse and pill theft. Setting up 4,700 centers across America (up from 3,400 last year), this event allows you to clean out your medicine cabinet and remove unused drugs.

America has seen an enormous increase in the abuse or non-medical use of prescription pain relievers among Americans in the last ten years. According to a White House study, the increase is in the neighborhood of 400 percent. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) found the increase in the percentage of admissions abusing pain relievers spans every age, gender, race, ethnicity, education, employment level, and region. The study also shows a more than tripling of pain reliever abuse among patients who needed treatment for opioid dependence.

With over 15 million people taking prescription painkillers, stimulants, tranquilizers or sedatives for non-medical, recreational purposes, the need to remove the temptation to abuse is evident. Do not assume that hiding your medication makes it immune to theft. Do not hoard pills for a “rainy day” or keep outdated pills on hand.

To find a center near you, the DEA has set up a web page which is searchable by city, stte or zip code. If you are not able to bring your unwanted, unused prescription drugs to one of the DEA drop-off points, there are responsible ways to dispose of medications:

1. is an ongoing, year-round program which helps consumers find participating pharmacies by city, state, or zip code to dispose of unused medications, excluding controlled substances, either with a postage-paid envelope or an onsite program where pharmaceuticals are collected and disposed of properly. Consumers are invited to visit to find and contact a local pharmacy, which can safely dispose of non-controlled and over-the-counter medications in their original containers. To date, more than 1,200 independent community pharmacies participate in the Dispose My Meds program nationwide, and have helped patients safely dispose over 25,000 pounds of unused or expired medications.

2. For Pills: Remove pills from their original container and mix with kitty litter, coffee grounds, mustard, or something unpalatable to pets or humans; place in a sealed container like an empty coffee can, or a Ziploc type bag, and throw it in the trash. Another acceptable method is to leave the pills in their original container, remove the label, add a little water to the container to dissolve the pills. Then add some kitty litter, coffee grounds, mustard, cayenne pepper, even dirt or sand to the contents, then replace the bottle top using duct tape to seal it and throw in the trash.

3. Liquids: You can safely be disposed of in a similar way by adding a little water and then mixing in something like kitty litter, salt, flour, mustard, any combination that will discourage anyone from eating it; then cap, conceal in a can or bottle, and throw in the trash.

4. Costco pharmacies will accept unwanted medications, no matter who you bought them from, and will destroy them properly at no charge to you. The one exception to this is that they cannot take controlled substances; these are called Schedule II drugs, and include drugs like morphine, OxyContin, Percodan, and Vicodin. Schedule II drugs clearly state on their labels that they can be flushed down the toilet, so go ahead and flush these.

Take the time to into your medicine cabinet and remove any expired prescription or over-the-counter drugs, or any prescription medication that is no longer needed.

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