Proper Medication Disposal

Proper medication disposal provides safe and responsible ways for people to get rid of prescription drugs kept in their homes. Take-back programs, a popular proper medication disposal strategy, provide avenues to reduce the supply available for diversion. The logic behind take-back programs goes something like this: If people dispose of their drugs, then they may be less likely to offer them to friends or family, have drugs ingested by and poison young children or unknowing guests, or have drugs taken from their homes for illicit purposes. Prescription Drug Take-Back Programs collect individuals’ unwanted or expired prescription drugs voluntarily through the use of drop boxes or take-back events. Evidence does not support the logic provided above in terms of how Take-Back programs influence individuals’ misuse; however, we do know that these programs collect thousands of pounds of drugs with only 10% of the drugs being commonly abused prescription drugs.1 Practice-based evidence indicates that Take-Back programs also can be implemented to increase awareness of NMUPD and enhance community readiness to implement a more comprehensive prevention strategy.2

Given the insufficient evidence supporting proper medication disposal, SAMHSA/CSAP grantees should consider rigorously evaluating such endeavors to determine their effectiveness in reducing NMUPD and its associated consequences.

Proper medication disposal strategies, summarized here, include the following:

1 Ma, C. S., Batz, F., Juarez, D. T., & Ladao, L. C. (2014). Drug take back in Hawai'i: Partnership between the University of Hawai’i Hilo College Of Pharmacy and the Narcotics Enforcement Division. Hawaii Journal of Medicine & Public Health73(1), 26-31.

2 G. Rots, personal communication, July 30, 2015