Wrap up your spring cleaning by getting rid of all those unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs safely and responsibly.
The 11th annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 30, 2016, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm local time across the country.
As with the previous Take-Back events, collection sites will be set up throughout communities nationwide. You simply visit the site and drop off your drugs. You can find the collection sites near you by visiting this web page, or by calling 1-800-882-9539.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day (NTBD) addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 52 million Americans over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime, and 6.1 million Americans did so in the last month.
According to studies by the DEA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. Drug enforcement agencies refer to this as “accidental drug dealing.”
“Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem and this is a great opportunity for folks around the country to help reduce the threat,” said Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg in a statement. “Please clean out your medicine cabinet and make your home safe from drug theft and abuse.”
It’s obvious that people are looking for a solution to their drug disposal problems when you look at the stats from last year’s event. Thousands of Americans in communities across the country discarded more than 350 tons of unused, expired, or unwanted drugs as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Initiative last year. Overall, in its 10 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in more than 5.5 million pounds — more than 2,750 tons — of pills.
Note that NTBD collection sites accept prescription drugs and over-the-counter pills only. Liquid drugs, Illegal drugs, needles, sharps and syringes are not accepted. That said, when you bring in medication for disposal, there are no forms to fill out and no questions will be asked.
If you’re busy on April 30 you don’t have to hang onto those drugs until the next NTBD event. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises consumers who want to clear out their medicine cabinets to follow disposal instructions on the drug label or information sheet that accompanies the medication.
Most drugs can be thrown in the household trash. But “consumers should take certain precautions before tossing them out,” according to the FDA. You should take drugs out of their original containers and “mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter” before tossing them in the trash. This way the medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and to people who may intentionally go through your trash looking for drugs.
The FDA also suggests that you scratch out all identifying information on a prescription label before discarding the bottle – including bringing it to a Take-Back site – to protect your privacy.
Some types of drugs – such as narcotic pain relievers and other controlled substances – should be flushed down the toilet rather than put into the trash. That’s because addicts may opt to consume drugs no matter what nasty substances you mix them with before trashing them. But do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless the label or patient information sheet specifically instructs you to do so.
But before you flush or toss drugs, consider the environment. Some experts state that the active ingredients in medicine are not be removed by wastewater treatment plants or sceptic systems, and may pollute water and harm aquatic life. Putting pharmaceuticals into landfills or solid waste systems may impact wildlife, people and the entire ecosystem. Take-Back programs are the most sustainable choice.
You can bring any type of prescription drug to a Take-Back event, and many people do. Last year, 617,150 pounds (309 tons) of unwanted prescription drugs were collected at 5,495 sites nationwide. This brought the total amount of drugs collected in the four years since Take-Back Day was instituted to 4,823,251 pounds, or 2,411 tons. If you want to see the state-by-state poundage breakdown from 2014, check out this map.
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