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Safely Get Rid of Prescription Meds in Friday’s National Take Back Day or Year-Round

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The opioid crisis sharpened its teeth last year, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that in 2019, opioids were responsible for the deaths of nearly 72,000 people in the U.S., a 5 percent increase from the prior year.

While many people find their way to illicit street drugs, those habits and addictions often begin with what’s readily available at home in the medicine cabinet. What we have now, after a couple decades of excessive pain management peddling, is a mixed bag of prescribed and illegal opioids where cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin pick up the slack after the doc cuts off the fentanyl, tramadol and morphine.

Though most opioids can be picked up on the street illegally, we can do something about the medicine cabinet left-overs that might tempt others in your household. Simply throwing away old prescriptions is a bad idea, whether they be highly addictive or not. Pharmaceuticals improperly disposed of end up in our landfills; in ground, surface and in some cases even tap water

The Drug Enforcement Administration is organizing its 18th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, where they make it easy for people to drop off unused pills and patches in a safe and anonymous way. This year’s event takes place Friday.

Improperly disposed pharmaceuticals can end up in our landfills and water supply. (Photo by Matvevna/pixabay.com)

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Since 2016, the Take Back Day efforts have collected more than 440 tons of pharmaceuticals. The event partners with local law enforcement agencies to set up collection sites. People can find locations near them by visiting https://takebackday.dea.gov and entering an address.   

Several police departments, sheriff’s offices, veteran’s administration building and district attorney’s offices around the Bay Area are participating.

But if you’re not comfortable dropping off drugs at the police station or can’t make it Friday, you have safe disposal options of  year-round. We found you can easily drop off those nasty habit formers and other prescribed controlled substances when you’re already out at the grocery or local drug store. Just pack up the bottles and bring them with you the next time you need to pick up milk at Safeway, Walgreens or CVS. 

People can find nearby year-round drop-off locations by visiting the DEA’s Diversion Control Division address search page.     

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.


  1. October 20, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    Be sure to double check that the bins are open at the drugstore before making the trip! Last time I was at CVS, both their meds bin and sharps container bin were locked due to the virus, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.