Getting rid of your unused medications

A woman at home going through her medications

How often are you checking to see if you have unused medications (prescription and over-the-counter) that you don’t need in your home? You should do this every 6 months to a year because having extra medications in your home is dangerous if they are used incorrectly.

The safest way to get rid of unused medications is to participate in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) upcoming National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, or find a permanent safe disposal site near you

What is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day?

Twice a year in April and October, the DEA hosts National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, a nationwide safe medication disposal event that is free, confidential and open to the public. This event educates people like you on the importance of safely disposing unused medications to prevent medication abuse or misuse in their homes and local communities. There is no limit on how many medications you can bring to dispose.

During take back days, the DEA works with local law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to create temporary collection sites to help people safely dispose their unwanted medications. All medications are destroyed by experts once received.

Since 2010, the DEA has hosted 20 National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events. The most recent take back day was in April 2021 and had over 4,500 collection sites across the country.

Accepted items:

  • Prescription medications, including controlled substances
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Medication samples
  • Pet medications
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Medicated ointments, lotions, creams and oils
  • Liquid medication in leak-proof containers

Prohibited items:

  • Needles/sharps
  • Syringes with needles
  • Thermometers
  • IV bags
  • Personal care items
  • Illicit drugs

Getting ready for take back day

The next take back day is Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. If you’d like to participate in your local community, we’ve got a few tips to get you started.

Review your current medications to see if you still need them. If you have questions, the best person to speak with is your doctor.

Remove all your personal information like your name and address from your prescriptions. The easiest way to do this is to use a permanent marker to black out the information.

Gather all unused medications and secure them in a safe place until it’s time for you to drop them off.

A few days before, find a safe medication disposal site near you.

If you’re unable to participate in take back day, we can help you get rid of your extra medications safely from the comfort of your own home.

Getting started with safe medication disposal at home:

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