What You Need To Know About National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Close to 10 million pounds of prescription drugs have been returned since the bi-annual event started in 2010.

An assortment of prescription drugs.
Phil Walter / Getty Images

Close to 10 million pounds of prescription drugs have been returned since the bi-annual event started in 2010.

On Saturday, October 27, people across America will come together to help stem the abuse of prescription medicines by turning in drugs at designated drop-off sites as part of the 16th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

The event — which is hosted jointly by law enforcement agencies across the nation in addition to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) — seeks to collect unused medicines that could be abused or misused by individuals not bearing the proper physician’s prescription. More than 6 million Americans misuse controlled prescription medications annually, according to the DEA, with most of those abuses stemming from people finding said drugs in the medicine cabinets of their family members or of people that they know.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is one of the ways that the DEA hopes to combat that issue. The agency holds two separate events annually to help Americans who don’t know how to properly dispose of medicines. The event gives these citizens a way to get the drugs out of their homes when they’re no longer needed.

The agency happily boasts of its past successes — in April alone this year, almost 950,000 pounds of drugs were collected at 5,842 collection sites across the country.

Since the program started in 2010, more than 9.96 million pounds of drugs have been collected, according to reporting from Drugs.com. That means that this year, the proceedings could tip the weight of total drugs collected to over 10 million pounds since the inception of the bi-annual event.

While the event is designed to take back most prescription medicines, some items are not accepted at event sites. These include needles, asthma inhalers, mercury thermometers, and illegal drugs, including marijuana.

Still, the event is a much needed way to dispose of drugs. Even in households where drug abuse isn’t prevalent, it’s still possible for drugs to get stolen from medicine cabinets by a family friend who has an unknown addiction. By getting rid of unneeded prescriptions right away, the chances of those kinds of things happening go down dramatically.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is especially vital in light of the growing crisis of opioid abuse over the years. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 200,000 Americans died between the years of 1999 through to 2016 from opioid overdoses. Further reporting from the CDC points out that the crisis is near its high point: out of all those deaths, 63,000 happened in 2016 alone.

There is some good news, however. Per previous reporting from the Inquisitr, the total number of opioid overdoses seems to be leveling off. “We are so far from the end of the epidemic, but we are perhaps at the end of the beginning,” Health Secretary Alex Azar said earlier this week.