Millions of Americans are prescribed medications daily to manage various health conditions. While these medications can be life-saving, they also pose risks if not used or disposed of properly.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) organizes National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is held on April 27, 2024. This crucial initiative aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible way of disposing of unused or expired prescription drugs.

What Is the DEA Drug Take Back Day?

DEA Drug Take Back Day is a biannual event held in communities across the United States. This year, it will happen on April 27, from 10 AM to 2 PM. Individuals can safely dispose of prescription medications on Take Back Day at designated collection sites. 

Most collection sites are at local law enforcement agencies, pharmacies, hospitals, and other community locations.

The goal of DEA Drug Take Back Day is to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse by providing individuals the means to properly dispose of them rather than left in homes where others may access these medications, accidentally or intentionally.

Since most people who misuse prescription medications get them from friends and family members, providing designed spaces to dispose of them safely helps reduce the amount of prescription drugs that may end up in the hands of people who may misuse them. 

Why Is it Important to Dispose of Prescription Drugs Safely?

Safe disposal of prescription medications is essential for preventing drug misuse. First and foremost, it helps prevent accidental ingestion, especially by children or pets. This is especially true in homes where there are mislabeled or unlabeled prescription drugs.

It can also be confusing for some people to figure out what to do with expired medications or drugs they no longer need.

Your first idea might be to throw it out with the rest of the trash simply, but this increases the risk of someone retrieving it to potentially abuse or sell it illegally.

Another common misconception is to flush them down the toilet, which harms the environment by contaminating water sources or the soil.

As such, people must know why medications must be handled differently than other kinds of refuse and how to dispose of them properly.

DEA Take Back Day seeks to increase awareness of safe disposal methods and allow people to practice them.  

How to Participate in DEA Drug Take Back Day

Participating in DEA Drug Take Back Day is simple. Individuals can visit the DEA’s official Take Back Day page or contact their local law enforcement agency to find a nearby collection site. Drug Take Back Day will be held this year on April 27th from 10 AM to 2 PM.

You can drop off unused or expired medications at the designated sites on the event day. Simply go in and drop your prescription drugs in a container or approach the volunteers or pharmacology students who may have set up a table for the day. You won’t need to give any explanations.

However, remember to remove personal information from prescription bottles before dropping them off.

It’s worth noting that while the DEA promotes this biannual event, you can still safely dispose of unneeded medications any day of the year at specific locations and pharmacies with take-back programs.

Use this online tool to find a location near you.

What if I Don’t Have a Take-Back Location Near Me?

If you don’t have a take-back location, the FDA lists selected medications you can safely flush down the toilet.

If your medications are not on that list, you can follow these FDA-approved steps to dispose of them safely:

  • Take the medications out of their original container.
  • Put them in a sealable bag with something undesirable, like used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter.
  • Put the sealed bag with the mixture in the trash.
  • Remove all identifiable information from the original medicine containers and dispose of them. 

What You Can and Cannot Bring to DEA Drug Take Back Day

The DEA Drug Take Back Day program accepts prescription, over-the-counter, and pet medications.

However, there are certain items and materials you cannot bring, including:

  • Needles
  • Sharps
  • Liquids
  • Inhalers
  • Illicit drugs

Reviewing the guidelines for accepted items before participating in the event is important.

Participate in DEA Drug Take Back Day on April 27th, 2024

DEA Drug Take Back Day is a valuable opportunity for individuals to take proactive steps in medication safety and substance misuse prevention, helping millions across the country dispose of unused or expired medications.

This way, participants can help protect themselves, their loved ones, and the environment.

It’s also important to take this opportunity as a turning point to make safe medication disposal an ongoing habit. It may even lead you to discover initiatives near you, like take-back boxes in surrounding pharmacies and mail-back programs.

Other than that, we encourage you to mark your calendars and participate in the next DEA Drug Take Back Day. By doing so, you’re making a difference in your home and your community, contributing to a safer and healthier environment for everyone.