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Safe Disposal, Safer Communities: The Impact of Taking Back Meds

Basics consumer health Controlled Substances DEA Drug Diversion Healthcare In the News medications Patient Engagement Patient Outcomes pharmacy Prescription Drug Abuse Public Health
April 9, 2024

In a world where prescription medications are a part of many people’s daily lives, it’s crucial to know how to use them safely and responsibly when they’re no longer needed. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a great opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinet and ensure those old pills don’t pose a risk to others or the environment.

This initiative is more than just a cleanup; it’s a vital movement to prevent the misuse of medications and the potential harm they can cause when they end up in the wrong hands. With millions of pounds of medications collected and safely disposed of over the years, it’s clear that a little effort can make a big difference.

Learn how you and your patients can contribute to a safer, healthier community.

What is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day?

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is all about offering an easy and safe way to dispose of old meds, and it’s also a chance to learn about how these medications could be misused if they’re just left hanging around.

National Take Back Day is like a massive spring cleaning for your medicine cabinet. The DEA’s been spearheading this campaign for over a decade, helping people like you clear out over 1.2 million pounds of meds just last year!

It’s all about keeping those meds out of the wrong hands and cutting down on addiction risks.

Why is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Important?

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day helps keep opioids and other drugs from being misused or accidentally taken by someone they weren’t meant for, cutting down on the chances of addiction and keeping everyone safer. Prevention starts with the safe prescribing of controlled substances, but once the prescription leaves the hands of the pharmacy, it’s up to the patient to ensure it stays in safe hands.

Federal data shows that 85% of intentional opioid misuse occurs with the patient’s knowledge. Patients have the power to prevent misuse by properly disposing of unused medication, and we must take this responsibility seriously.

“The routine nature of receiving medication at a doctor’s visit may lead us to forget the power of prescription drugs. Each prescription is tailored to meet the specific medical needs of an individual. However, the same medication administered to a different person can result in equally harmful effects, even in seemingly identical situations. Help prevent a good medication from giving a bad outcome by ensuring it is used only in the right scenario. Turn in old and unused medications through Drug Take Back Day. “

John Bernot, MD, Family Medicine Physician

“Proper disposal of old medications is important to protect our environment and prevent harm to others. By doing so, you help prevent prescription drugs, especially opioids, from falling into the wrong hands, thus reducing the risk of drug misuse and abuse. It also ensures that the substances in the medications do not end up contaminating our water supply or harming wildlife. The proper way to dispose of old medications includes using designated drug take-back programs or kiosks at pharmacies, following specific disposal instructions on the medication label, or mixing the medication with an undesirable substance and placing it in a sealed container before throwing it away if no other options are available.”

Adam Bress, PhD, Associate Professor, Vice Chair of Research for the Department of Population Health Science at the University of Utah, NAM Fellow

Safe Medication Disposal Tips

Getting rid of old or unused meds might not seem like a big deal, but doing it the right way is important to keeping our homes and communities safe. Here are some quick tips to ditch those drugs without any drama:

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day reminds us that we all have a part to play in preventing medication misuse and ensuring safety. By following the simple tips for safe disposal, we can all contribute to a larger movement of responsibility and care. So, let’s embrace this opportunity to clear out our medicine cabinets and care more about the world we share. Together, we can make a significant impact, one pill at a time.