PSA for anyone who has ever wondered what to do with leftover prescription meds: This Saturday, April 28, 2018, is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time in your area, you can visit police departments, hospitals, DEA divisions, and other collection sites to discard unused or expired prescription pills completely free with no questions asked.
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During the last Take Back Day this past October, 456 tons of prescription pills were collected at more than 5,300 sites across the U.S. And although, sure, it's not the most exciting way to spend your Saturday morning, it's a small step you can take for public health–specifically in the current fight against opioid abuse.
According to the DEA's Take Back Day website, 6.4 million Americans have abused prescription drugs, and most of those drugs came from family and friends–including from the family medicine cabinet. Dropping off these controlled substances at an official collection site removes them from homes where they could be stolen and misused.
But it also makes your life easier, since you're often not supposed to just toss old pills in the trash. Instead, it's recommended that you mix Rx pills with something like dirt, cat litter, or coffee grounds to make them less appealing to someone to dig out of the garbage, then seal that undesirable mixture in a plastic bag or container and throw the whole shebang away. Flushing isn't always a safe alternative either, since it raises a host of environmental concerns. (Check out the FDA's list of safe-to-flush pills here.)
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You can find a collection site near you by searching the database at takebackday.dea.gov or calling 1-800-882-9539. And if you miss Take Back Day, inquire at your local pharmacy. Many will take back unused or unwanted pills any day of the year.