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Twice a year, the United States Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration holds a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The 15th such day took place on April 28, 2018, and with the cooperation of 4,683 law enforcement partners, they collected 949,046 pounds of prescription drugs. The total for all 15 days was 9,964,714 pounds.

These take-back days were launched in an effort to combat the opioid crisis. Most people who abuse prescription medications get them from friends or family. If you’ve ever received a two-week prescription for pain medication for an injury or procedure that only required a few days’ worth of pills, you probably have a half-empty bottle collecting dust in a medicine cabinet or in a drawer somewhere. Unfortunately, if someone who lives in or visits your house has a substance abuse problem, they might find these medications and use them improperly. It’s also possible for children to get ahold of pills and take them thinking they’re candy or something else innocuous.

If you are struggling with addiction or in recovery yourself, having these pills rattling around your house is only going to serve as a temptation. Between 21 and 29 percent of people who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. If your substance of choice isn’t opioids, you still might be tempted to take them if you’re out of your drugs, suffering from withdrawal, or even dealing with strong cravings. Maybe you developed an addiction to muscle relaxers, for instance, in an attempt to deal with chronic pain. Then you have your wisdom teeth out and suddenly you’re confronted with a bottle full of pain relief. Most likely, you aren’t going to let that bottle sit there for long before giving in to temptation. By disposing of medications when you no longer need them, you can avoid this urge.

If you don’t live near a take-back location or need to dispose of prescription drugs before the next event, here are some tips for doing so safely:

  • Remove the medicine from its original container.
  • Mix it – but do not crush the pills – with something no one would want to consume, such as dirt, used coffee grounds or kitty litter.
  • Place it in a sealable bag or container and dispose of in the household trash.
  • Be sure that when you throw the empty prescription bottle away, you mark out or destroy any personal information on the label.

The next National Take-Back Day is October 27, 2018. If you would like to find a location near you where you can drop off prescription drugs, Google Earth Outreach has teamed with the DEA to create a map of sites in each state. For year-round programs, go to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Diversion Control Division website or call (800) 882-9539 for more information.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.