7 Fast Facts About National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
1. IT’S TOMORROW.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is tomorrow, September 26. (Unless you live in Delaware or Pennsylvania, in which case you missed it.) You can bring your unused prescription drugs to the nearest participating police department, fire station, or college from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Click here to find a drop-off point near you.
2. DON’T BRING HEROIN TO THE POLICE STATION.
The government is not going to dispose of your illegal drugs for you.
3. YOUR OLD PILLS WILL BE SET ON FIRE.
Like any drugs handed over to the authorities, the drugs collected on National Drug Take-Back Day will be burned in EPA-approved incinerators. The incinerators are outfitted with scrubbing systems to minimize the release of burnt drugs into the atmosphere.
4. GETTING RID OF OLD DRUGS IS IMPORTANT.
Keeping unused drugs around increases the risk that somebody other than you will get into them. Many accidental poisonings, especially of kids and the elderly, start in the medicine cabinet. Unused drugs are also a temptation for drug seekers. In a 2013 national survey, more than 50% of respondents who abused painkillers said they got them from family or friends—including their medicine cabinets.
5. TAKE-BACK DAYS ARE JUST ONE OPTION.
Before the advent of take-back days, Americans were advised to dispose of their unused drugs by throwing them away or flushing them down the toilet. These methods are not without their risks. Drugs that go down the toilet are flushed into the water supply, where they can damage the environment and even get into our drinking water. Still, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that certain drugs should be flushed.
6. TAKE-BACKS HAVE THEIR DRAWBACKS.
From 2010 to 2014, National Drug Take-Back Days collected 2411 tons of prescription drugs. This seems like a great win for the environment, but some scientists are skeptical. A 2012 study concluded that the pollution produced by people driving their old pills to drop-off sites was far greater than the environmental damage done by leaving pills in a landfill. The authors recommended that people go back to throwing their pills away (after mixing them with coffee grounds or other gross substances to deter potential thieves).
7. AWARENESS IS THE THING.
A representative from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) said the real benefit of take-back days is to raise awareness of the dangers of keeping old drugs around. You can throw your pills away, bring them to a drop-off point, or, soon, return them to your pharmacy, as long as you dispose of them safely. For more information on safe drug disposal, check out the FDA website.