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  • This national substance misuse hotline is free, confidential, and available 24/7.
  • Drug Take Back

Prescription opioids (also known as prescription painkillers) are a category of commonly-prescribed narcotics. Prescription opioids are typically in pill form, but can also be patches or liquids, such as codeine cough syrup. When taken as directed by a medical professional, they’re relatively safe and can be beneficial. However, there is always a risk of addiction. And that risk increases greatly with duration of use and misuse.

DEA National Takeback Day

DEA National Takeback Day is held biannually with dates in April and October. Click here to see Collection Sites near you.

Avoid Flushing or Draining

Unused or expired prescription medications can contribute to contamination of our water supply if not disposed of safely.

Drug Take Back Locations

To find a Drug Take Back location near you, use this interactive map:

Find a DEA Controlled Substance Public Disposal Location in your area

How to Dispose of Unwanted Prescription Painkillers and Other Medications

Programs and Drug Take Back Day

Whenever possible, take your unused prescription drugs to a collection program or event – the Drug Enforcement Administration’s “Drug Take Back Days” happen, at minimum, in the spring and fall of each year. You may safely dispose of controlled and uncontrolled substances, over-the-counter medications, ointments, patches, creams, non-aerosol sprays, vials, and pet medications at these events. Learn more about the DEA’s “Drug Take Back Days.”

Local Sheriff and Police Departments

If your prescriptions contain narcotics or other controlled substances, contact your local Sheriff’s office and/or police department to find out if they will accept unwanted prescription narcotics. Some law enforcement offices will accept non-controlled substances too, but you should be sure exactly what yours will accept before dropping off items.

Mail-Back Programs

You can participate in mail-back programs for unused medications. Check with your doctor, pharmacy, or local police station to see if they offer mail-back packages. Legitimate packages should include pre-paid postage, unique ID numbers, and be pre-addressed to a location authorized by the DEA. Avoid leaving packages in unsecured mailboxes.

If you would like to offer mail-back programs through your office, or for more information on mail-back programs, refer to legal requirements found on the DEA website.

Disposal of Sharps

For Collectors
  • Learn how to safely dispose of unwanted prescriptions and medications.
  • Ensure you have signage directing the public where to drop off their sharps or to have a separate sharps box. Do not have the public drop sharps in the permanent drop box with other medicines.
  • Have a large sharps container on hand in case someone brings sharps in container that does not meet required standards.
    • Acceptable: thick-walled plastic bottles with screw on caps or commercial sharps containers.
    • Not acceptable: bags, milk jugs, or coffee cans.
  • Have tongs handy in case there is a spill and you need to pick up syringes to put them in the larger container.
  • Law enforcement agencies could work with a mail back program or hire an infectious waste hauler to dispose of sharps.
For the Public


Download and post or distribute the free Dose of Reality informational and educational materials for safe storage and disposal, designed for you to use in spreading the word within your family, friends, and communities.