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The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) invites the public to participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This day is held on the last Saturday during April and October each calendar year. Law enforcement agencies, pharmacies, and other organizations like the Alabama Cooperative Extension System hold special drug take-back drives. These drives enable people to safely dispose of unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter medication.

The Problems

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that more than one hundred thousand people die each year because of drug overdoses. During stressful times, people often look for comfort in illegal and prescription drugs such as opioids that may be readily accessible inside a home. Such risks to humans and the environment call for enhanced outreach to ensure the safe removal of unwanted and expired medications from households worldwide.

Unfortunately, many people improperly dispose of unused pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) that are non-medicinal chemicals. These products make their way into the environment through sewer systems or landfills. PPCPs can travel through sewer systems and arrive at wastewater treatment facilities that are not equipped to remove them from the water completely. As a result, compounds left in treated water can cycle back into drinking water.

People are advised to take an active role in eliminating PPCPs from the environment since humans are responsible for their existence. An easy way to do that is to participate in drug take-back drives. Drugs, as well as personal care products, are collected by law enforcement officers at designated sites or by using prescription drop boxes.

Prescription Drug Boxes

Prescription drop boxes are one of the best ways to eliminate unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs at any time. Find a list of drop boxes established through Alabama Extension partnerships on the Disposing of Unused Medication webpage.

You can contact your local police department or pharmacy to find the nearest drop box in your area. You can also visit DEA’s Diversion Control Division’s website to find a drop box near you.

Note: Be sure to remove all medication labels before bringing pill bottles or other containers to a drop-off location in your community.

For More Information

 Additional drug take-back and other resources are available at:

For more information about Urban Extension environmental programs, contact Urban Environmental Specialist Karnita Garner at (256) 372-8331.