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Here’s how you can safely dispose of prescription drugs you don’t need

Law enforcement agencies across Utah are participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.

(Toby Talbot | AP file photo) Law enforcement agencies across Utah are participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 24, 2021, to help people safely disposed of unused or expired prescription medication, such as OxyContin.

Unused medication — like opioids — sitting in a medicine cabinet can be dangerous. Millions of people misuse prescription pain relievers, stimulants and sedatives every year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. And whether they know it or not, a majority of those drugs are obtained from family and friends.

To help prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths, the Drug Enforcement Administration is hosting National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.

Law enforcement agencies across the United States, including in Utah, are participating by hosting disposal sites. Collect any prescription medication that’s expired or that you’re no longer using, drop it off at an authorized site, and officials will safely dispose of it for you. If you’re unsure whether a collection site will accept your medication, check the disposal instructions on your medication or contact the agency hosting the disposal site.

“If you don’t dispose of the unused or expired prescription drugs in your home, they might find a new one,” a public service announcement video on the DEA’s Take Back Day website warns. “They could end up lost, stolen, or simply misused. Keep them safe. Clean them out. Take them back.”

The South Jordan Police Department announced on Twitter that it’s participating in Take Back Day from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Others participating include:

  • The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office will host a collection site at the San Juan County Public Safety building, 297 S. Main St., Monticello.

  • The Salt Lake City Police Department’s drop-off location will be at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, 475 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City.

  • The Orem Police Department’s drop-off site will be at Timpanogos Regional Hospital, 750 W. 800 North, Orem.

For a full list of more than 50 Utah collection locations, visit the DEA’s website and use the collection site locator. If you can’t make it to a drug disposal on Saturday, there are collection sites open year-round. Use Only as Directed, an online resource for the safe disposal of unused medication, lists drop-off locations on its website.

If dropping off unused prescription drugs at an authorized location is not an option, there are other ways to dispose of them. To throw them away in your household trash, first remove the medicine from its container and mix it with used coffee grounds, kitty litter or some other “undesirable substance,” the DEA recommends. Then place that mixture in a bag that won’t leak and throw it in your trash.

To avoid potentially contaminating local water sources, don’t flush unused medications down the toilet or wash them down a drain unless the label explicitly says it’s safe to do so.

According to the DEA’s website, during the last national Take Back Day, on Oct. 19, 4,153 law enforcement groups participated with 4,587 collection sites and helped collect 985,392 pounds of prescription medication.

Visit takebackday.dea.gov for more information about prescription drug abuse, substance abuse disorders and treatments.

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