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by Stephanie Taylor, Texas Health and Human Services’ Aging Services Coordination

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day initiative encourages people to remove unneeded medications from their homes to prevent medication misuse. This biannual event occurs in April and October, with the next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 27.

The event aims to collect potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs for destruction at sites across the nation. Locations include police departments and sheriff’s offices, municipal buildings, pharmacies and other health care settings. Search for participating locations on the official Take Back Day website.

For the 25th National Take Back Day on Oct. 28, 2023, Texas hosted 227 of the 4,675 collection sites in the U.S. In Texas alone, 41,554 pounds of unneeded medications were dropped off at collection sites.

National Take Back Day is just one of several initiatives in Texas that strive to prevent or treat substance use disorders.

In May 2017, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) established the Texas Targeted Opioid Response (TTOR) public health initiative to save lives and provide lifelong support to Texans with opioid and stimulant use disorders. TTOR works to expand access to prevention programming, integrated services, treatment and recovery support services.

Among TTOR initiatives is the Safe Drug Disposal and Community Awareness project, which seeks to increase access to safely disposing prescription medications to prevent their non-medical use.

The University of Houston College of Pharmacy established the Prescription Drug Misuse Education and Research (PREMIER) Center to reduce the risks of prescription drug misuse. The PREMIER Center works with local community prevention groups like hospitals, physicians’ offices and pharmacies, as well as fire, police and emergency responders, to distribute single-use disposal systems that allow the safe disposal of medications from home. The two types of at-home disposal options are deactivation pouches and mail-back envelopes.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) encourages you to “Make Every Day Take Back Day” by visiting their website and finding a local pharmacy, hospital or business registered federally as a year-round drop-off location. The DEA has now registered a record 17,000 pharmacies as authorized collectors to help people dispose of unused prescription drugs any day of the year. These safe disposal receptacles, in addition to annual DEA Take Back Day events, provide an easy, no-cost opportunity to anonymously dispose of medications that are no longer needed. Additionally, many local police departments provide year-round drug disposal boxes.

For more information on where and how to dispose of unused medicines, go to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. To learn more about mental health and substance use services for families and people of all ages, visit the HHSC website.

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