Dispose of Medicine for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Last fall, a record-setting 912,305 pounds — or 456 tons — of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs were collected for disposal as part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

The event began in 2010 after the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that common methods for disposing of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — posed potential safety and health hazards. 

Because many people don’t know what to do with their old medication, they end up hanging onto it. Unfortunately, medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs, according to the DEA. 

These take-back events do a lot to get prescription drugs disposed of in a responsible, environmentally friendly manner. Since fall 2010, the total amount collected is 9,015,668 pounds, or 4,508 tons.

If you want to add to that total today, find a participating location near you here. There are more than 5,000 sites all across the country.

If you can’t make it, you still have plenty of options. Check out our medication recycling guide for more information.

If you’ve disposed of the medication but are looking for something to do with the pill bottles, donate them to Matthew:25 Ministries, which either sends them to places where medical supplies are needed or shreds and recycles them.

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