4 Reasons Why Drug Take-Back Days Matter

unused drugs given back to smith pharmacy on drug take back day

Every so often, across the country, local communities provide residents with locations that will accept unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs for safe disposal.

The “no questions asked” policy means that people can bring in whatever they have without concern that they will be asked any intrusive questions. It is a great opportunity to safely dispose of all unwanted medications, free of charge.

October 22, 2016 is a National Drug Take-Back Day, and in Las Vegas, residents can take part by bringing their outdated or unwanted prescription or over-the-counter medications for safe disposal to participating Smith’s Pharmacy locations at:

Not sure that this is an event to prioritize? Here are four reasons to take advantage of the opportunity and every National Drug Take-Back Day that comes along.

  1. The High Rate of Opiate Overdose
  2. Even those who do not develop a dependence on opiate painkillers risk experiencing an overdose if they take too much or combine use of the drug with other substances, including alcohol. The view that prescription drugs are inherently safe because they are processed under regulated conditions, prescribed by a doctor, and dispensed by a pharmacist is inaccurate and can lead to unsafe use of the drugs. The fact is that doctors will prescribe a certain dose and strength of a medication only after thoroughly reviewing a patient’s medical history and with a full understanding of their current situation as well as their use of other medications that may interact.

    Simply taking leftover prescription painkillers to self-medicate a headache or other pain can be dangerous. It can trigger an accidental overdose that can be fatal, especially if combined with use of alcohol, taken in a high dose, or used in combination with other medications, especially benzodiazepines.

  3. Safety
  4. Expired medications are not efficacious. They may have lost their potency, negatively interact with other medications, or cause problems with underlying medical disorders. All medications – whether prescription or sold over the counter – have an expiration date, and it is a good idea to clean out your medicine cabinet regularly to remove all medications, addictive and nonaddictive, that are past their prime. Taking advantage of a National Drug Take-Back Day can help you to remember this routine cleaning item.

  5. Environmental Protection
  6. Many people simply throw away medications they do not want or flush them down the toilet. Both of these put dangerous chemicals into the groundwater, infecting soil and crops as well as our water supply. High levels of any medication – addictive or not – in the groundwater is not safe for anyone. Bringing all medications to take-back locations can help to mitigate this problem and increase the environmental safety of your community.

  7. The Addiction Epidemic

Addictive prescription drugs and some over-the-counter medications are among the most commonly abused drugs in the US. Among them are:

  • Prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet
  • Prescription stimulants like Adderall and Vyvanse
  • Prescription benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium
  • Over-the-counter cough medications that contain dextromethorphan

These drugs are effective when used as prescribed for as long as needed, but too often, families keep “extras” in the medicine cabinet “just in case.” Believing them to be safe, they hold onto them in part because they are expensive but also because they believe they may come in handy at a later date. The fact is, however, that use of these drugs without a prescription can be unsafe, and having them around the house can contribute to their use and abuse by those who are living with an active opiate addiction.

Many who seek treatment for prescription drug addiction report that their use of these drugs started with the occasional use of “extra” pills kept around the house. Getting rid of these drugs – all the extra pills left over after a surgical procedure or short-term treatment, for example – can eliminate this risk or slow down the development of an addiction.

Be on the lookout for the next National Drug Take-Back Day in 2017!

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
Desert Hope is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is easily accessible from most locations in the Southwest. We offer a full continuum of care that spans from inpatient medical detox and rehab to outpatient services and sober living. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs near Vegas or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.