Preparing for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Disposing of unused prescription opioids safely and as soon as they are no longer needed can help prevent these medicines from falling into the wrong hands. Data show that opioid misuse often starts in the home, with more than 40 percent of those who misused prescription pain relievers obtaining the medication from a friend or relative for free.

This Saturday, April 28, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is hosting its National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This is a great opportunity to clean out the medicine cabinet and remove any leftover opioids from the home. Disposing of unused pain medications is one actionable step we all can take to address prescription opioid abuse.

Through our work with Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA), the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) is disseminating educational resources, centralizing information on disposal locations and engaging in local communities to not only raise awareness about the importance of proper disposal but also provide the information and resources to do so.

AAOA’s recent survey from Morning Consult reaffirmed that this type of robust consumer education effort is needed:

  • Nearly nine out of 10 respondents said they saved unused prescription opioids for future use.
  • Approximately 36 percent said they did not know they needed to dispose of leftover prescription opioids.
  • Nearly 30 percent said they did not know how to safely dispose of opioids, raising concerns about the likelihood of abuse or misuse by friends or family members.
  • However, nearly 70 percent said that if they knew more about how to safely dispose of prescription opioids, they would be more likely to do so.

HDA is working with AAOA and our partners at the national and local levels to take this issue on directly.

Last month, AAOA partnered with Drug Free Duval, a community coalition working to prevent and reduce substance abuse and misuse in Duval County, Fla., to host a safe disposal training with members of the Jacksonville community. At the event, more than 60 community members and public health professionals learned from local trainers about the importance of preventing the misuse of opioids in the home through safe storage and proper disposal of unused medicines. Trainers highlighted local disposal locations and distributed medication disposal bags that neutralize medicines, like prescription opioids.

Additionally, just last week, AAOA worked with the Brecksville and Broadview Heights Chambers of Commerce in Ohio to raise awareness about the importance of safe disposal and encourage business leaders in the area to engage in the upcoming Take Back Day.

After reading this blog post, we encourage you to review AAOA’s fact sheet with 10 things you need to know to safely dispose of prescription opioids. Please make time to clean out your medicine cabinet and dispose of any unused or expired prescriptions.

If you cannot make it to a drop-off location on April 28, you also can use AAOA’s search tool to find year-round disposal information for your state or ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if they provide medication disposal bags. Whichever option you choose, the most important part is making sure these medications are properly disposed.

To stay informed and join the conversation, follow @AAOA_Tweets and using the hashtag #AgainstOpioidAbuse on Twitter.

John Parker is the senior vice president of communications for the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, the founding member of AAOA.