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National Drug Take Back Day Encourages Safe and Sustainable Drug Disposal

man retrieving drugs to dispose of them properly

When is National Drug Take Back Day?

By Anna Peterson Sanders PharmD, BCGP., pharmacist at Network Health
Originally published on 4/19/2021 at 2:00 p.m.
Updated on 3/25/2022 at 9:33 a.m.

Getting rid of stuff when you’re done is usually a straightforward thing. Food waste is thrown out (or composted), recyclable materials are put into the blue-top bin and clothing or other still useful items are donated to the nearest thrift shop or handed down to a friend or family member.

Prescription medication, on the other hand, doesn’t fall into either of these categories. Throwing them out can cause their compounds to pollute watersheds and other natural regions. Similarly, there’s no legal secondhand market or outlets for medication.

So, you may wonder what to do with your drugs when you’ve reached the end of your time using them.

Why Should I Get Rid of Medications When I’m Done with Them?

Did you know that the majority of misused prescription drugs come from family or friends in situations where the medication is stolen from the home? Similarly, many people find their way to abused drugs by retrieving them from the trash.

Proper drug disposal can help to prevent drug overdose deaths when prescription drugs fall into the wrong hands. Prescription drugs that have been thrown away can also become environmental hazards as the chemicals inside of them can make their way into the water supply when the trash is put into a landfill.

Between the human and environmental tolls, it is clear that we need to better understand how to properly dispose of our prescription medications. This is why National Drug Take Back Day is so important.

When is National Drug Take-Back Day?

National Drug Take-Back Day changes from year to year.

In 2022, National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is on Saturday, April 30. Organized by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), this day gives those with unused prescription medications the chance to safely and properly dispose of them.

During National Drug Take Back Day, you can do any of the following to rid your home of these potentially dangerous medications.

  • Call a local pharmacy or police department – Many local pharmacies have DisposeRx®, a medication disposal system specifically geared up for helping those with extra medications safely dispose of them.
  • Contact the Wisconsin Dug Repository – Certain drugs, like those for cancer and some chronic conditions, may be donated. Once the medications clear a safety check, they can be used by those who may not otherwise be able to afford their prescription medications. For more information on this life-saving program, click here.
  • Needles, syringes and other sharps – These pose another threat and that’s the threat of contamination or injury to sanitation workers. Properly disposing of sharps is important. Reach out to the Registered Sharps Collection Stations ( or search healthcare waste on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website here.

As always, your local pharmacists are on hand to help. If you would like to find a pharmacy for more information, click here. If you are a Network Health member, we have a team of pharmacists on hand to help you when you need it. Click below for the best way to reach out to us today.

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