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Why You Should Take Part In Drug Take Back Day

This Saturday, dispose of your medications—and your vape devices—the right way.

If you could prevent drug addiction, or a drug overdose, in the time it takes to run a quick errand, wouldn't you? Now you can.

This Saturday, October 26 from 10am to 2pm is the Drug Enforcement Agency's National Prescription Take Back Day, a day devoted to the safe disposal of prescription drugs, in hopes of preventing drug misuse. If you have any bottles of unused pills floating around your house, consider taking part in this potentially life-saving event. 

Why it matters

Most prescription drugs are generally safe to take as prescribed, when they are prescribed to you. Unfortunately, many people abuse drugs that are not only prescribed to them, but to others. 

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly ten million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. Of those, a majority of abused prescription drugs were not prescribed to the individual, but obtained from family and friends—often taken straight from the home medicine cabinet. This is incredibly worrisome, considering we are in the midst of one of the scariest drug epidemics this country has ever seen. The CDC reports that in 2017 over 70,000 people died due to drug overdoses, the majority of them—nearly 68 percent—due to opioids. 

It's also preventable. Think about how many lives could be saved every year if people simply got rid of any prescription medication in their medicine cabinet they no longer needed. This is exactly the reason why the DEA started National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Why you should participate 

Let's assume you have prescription drugs in the back of your medicine cabinet, or under the sink, or in an old briefcase. You'd feel awful if someone you loved took them, became addicted, or overdosed. Maybe you have young children living at home, or those who visit on occasion. Kids are curious, and it can be all too easy for a child to eat a bottle of pills like candy. By disposing of unneeded drugs, you could be saving a life, plain and simple. 

So why not just dump your pills down the drain, flush them down the toilet, or toss them in the trash? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most water treatment facilities cannot filter out drugs. And, pouring them down the drain can be hazardous to the environment, as the medications can enter into the community drinking water supplies. All drugs collected on Take Back Day will be securely stored and transported to a safe location for destruction, where they will likely be incinerated.

RELATED: 30 Ways Tap Water Could Ruin Your Health

What you can bring

Any and all prescription medications are welcome. You don't even have to show ID and can black out your name on the bottles or dump the pills into a plastic bag if you prefer. This year, the DEA will also accept vaping devices and cartridges. (You'll want to bring yours in after reading the 25 Things Vaping Does to Your Body.)

Where to find the locations

Google has a really cool interactive map where you can easily locate a drug disposal center near you. Additionally, you can use Google Maps to locate collection centers any day of the year with the search term "medical disposal near me." Or use the DEA's Collection Site Locator right here. We found eight handy locations within a five mile radius of our location.

Is National Drug Take Back Day effective?

Yes! At the last National Take Back Day in April 2019, 937,443 pounds (that's 468.72 tons) were collected. While there is no way to calculate how many lives may have been saved, if it was responsible for preventing just one overdose from occurring, it is working.

But again, it doesn't have to be Drug Take Back Day to safely dispose of any extra prescription medications around your home. For more information on how to properly dispose of unused medicines, click here. And to live your happiest and healthiest life, don't miss these 70 Things You Should Never Do For Your Health.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah