National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

All of us have some kind of medication that we’re holding on to in our homes. Many of these can even be years old and obviously expired. What’s worse, they can pose a health risk if someone, especially a child, were to find them and try to consume them.

Luckily, there is a day twice a year where you can take old pills to be disposed of properly. This day is known as National Drug Take-Back Day

What Exactly is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day?

This is a day that usually happens in the spring and the fall, in which the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) calls for unused prescription drugs to be returned. The goal is to prevent drugs from being misused or stolen to be sold for profit. The next day that it takes place is April 25th, 2020.

It’s important that unwanted pills not be thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet. These chemicals can wind up in the water supply by leaching into rivers, streams and groundwater from landfills, or through water reclamation processes that cannot eliminate the sophisticated compounds that are found in prescription drugs.

Many pharmacies (such as CVS and Walgreens) will also take unwanted medications, as well as a fair amount of smaller, local companies. Check out the Take Back Day website in order to also find other locations where you can safely dispose of your medications: takebackday.dea.gov

The program has been around since 2010 and has collected over 12.7 million pounds of medications that were unused or expired. In October of 2019 alone, 883,000 pounds were collected! Considering the opioid crisis we’re in the middle of as a nation, this is a very important program.

In the US alone, 130 people die due to opioid overdose on a daily basis. A lot of this has to do with the misuse of prescription drugs, and drugs being sold on the black market. There is also a fair amount of evidence that shows the majority of younger people who abuse drugs get them from family and friends, often by taking them from someone’s medicine cabinet.

Opioids are drugs that are prescribed for acute pain. It was once claimed that they were not highly addictive, but evidence has shown that they are incredibly addictive, as well as dangerous. It is this addictive potential that has caused millions of Americans to suffer everything from excess pain, financial distress, withdrawal symptoms, and even death.

How Did it Begin?

This initiative started back in September of 2010 when the Controlled Substances Act was amended. This allowed the DEA to provide an option for people who wanted to safely and effectively dispose of their expired and unused medications. When the DEA first started this program, it was not seen as much of a permanent solution, at least not until a month later when the more permanent measure would appear.

Safe and Secure Drug Disposal Act of 2010 was signed into law by president Obama in October of that year, and this allowed the DEA to provide more regulations for their take-back program. According to Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis:

“Prescription drug abuse is a significant public health and public safety issue, and a large source of the problem is a direct result of what is in Americans’ medicine cabinets. SAMHSA’s 2009 National Survey

on Drug Use and Health found that over 70 percent of people who used prescription pain relievers non-medically got them from friends or relatives, while approximately 5 percent got them from a drug

dealer or from the Internet.”

This is why it is important to remove all drugs that are not being used or are expired from your medicine cabinets. These simple steps can help to prevent millions of Americans from becoming addicted, or otherwise harmed by drug abuse. We should all do our part and safely and effectively dispose of our unused medications.

Did you miss Take Back Day? Don’t worry – the DEA also has a handy link to find a location near you to dispose of unwanted medications: click here

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