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 occurs twice annually nationwide, once in the spring and once in the fall. 2019’s Spring National Take Back Day is quickly arriving, occurring on April 27th!
Why is it Important?
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 nearly tripled between 2010 and 2016 in New York State alone, according to the NYS Department of Health’s 2018 Annual Opioid Report, from 5.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2010 to 15.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2016. Disposing of your old prescription drugs is a good way to ensure that they are not ultimately misused by at-risk friends or family.
Where Can I Dispose of Prescription Drugs?
In October 2018, New York State had 269 participating collection sites, and 189 law enforcement partners helping with collection and disposal of unused and expired prescription medications. To find a disposal location near you, the DEA has a useful search tool that generates a list of nearby sites. Remember that even if you miss National Take Back Day, the collection sites provided by this search are active year-round.
If out of home disposal is not an option for you, there are safe in-home options that can be just as effective. My Old Meds, an organization that advocates for safe prescription medication disposal, lays out a comprehensive, step-by-step process for safely disposing of drugs. You can see their in-home disposal recommendations here.
How Else Can I Help?
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, whether it be in your local community or through your social media circles.
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.