National Take Back Day is a part of the DEA initiative to limit the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs by safely and anonymously collecting unused or expired prescription medications at approved collection sites. It usually occurs twice annually nationwide, once in the spring and once in the fall. 2020’s Spring National Take Back Day has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but you can still do your part this year by safely disposing of old medicines at home.
FDA guidelines advise disposing of old medicines in the following ways:
It is preferable to dispose of expired or unwanted medication through DEA collection sites, but at-home disposal- when done properly- is an effective way to keep unsafe medications out of your home and away from loved ones who may abuse them. In times like these it is important to be as vigilant as possible to dispose of medications responsibly.
According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.2 million Americans misused prescription drugs in 2016 alone. These drugs were most often obtained from family members and friends, typically from, “the home medicine cabinet.” Considering the ongoing opioid crisis occurring in the United States, it is especially important for individuals who have unused prescription opioids in their medicine cabinets to dispose of them in a safe, effective manner, which is just what National Take Back day aims to do. The rate of opioid overdose deaths increased by 200% between 2010 and 2017 in New York State alone, according to the NYS Department of Health’s 2019 Annual Opioid Report. Disposing of your old prescription drugs is a good way to ensure that they are not ultimately misused by at-risk friends or family.
If you want to help further promote and raise awareness for National Take Back Day, the DEA provides a digital partnership toolbox that includes printable posters and pamphlets, as well as postable social media images for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These are useful tools when it comes to spreading the word through your social media circles. Despite the postponement of Take Back Day, these materials can still be a useful reminder that people should get rid of old prescription medications.
If you or a loved one are suffering from prescription medication addiction, New York State has resources that can help get you on the path to recovery.