Got drugs? Spring clean and give drugs to the DEA.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day could free up some space in your medicine cabinet, and free your mind from worry about what happens to your old prescription drugs.
Written by Denise Amrich, Contributor

Now that Spring has sprung, it's time to tackle that spring cleaning. Why not start with the medicine cabinet? Is it full of old prescription drugs that expired years ago, like that course of antibiotics you know you were supposed to finish but decided to quit when your symptoms went away (please, don't do that next time!), or the pain meds you ended up not taking because they made you nauseous and sleepy?

Many people don't know it, but prescription drug abuse is a rampant problem. Lots of the drugs doing the damage started out in medicine cabinets like yours and mine, and wound up in the wrong hands. Unused, unwanted, and expired prescription drugs are dangerous for many reasons.

To name just a few dangers, these drugs can contribute to medication errors when people grab the wrong bottle instead of the one they're supposed to be taking. Children can get ahold of them. Pills can be a target of theft. When improperly disposed of, such as being flushed down the toilet, these drugs wind up in our water supply.

In response to this challenge, The U.S. DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has created an annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This year's event will be the second one held. It's taking place on Saturday, April 30, 2011, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at your local time, all across America. Last year's event was very successful. 121 tons of drugs were turned in to be properly collected and disposed of.

According to the DEA, this year the event has grown. 4,700 government, community, public health, and law enforcement partners will be working together at the local level, hopefully at a site near you, to "collect expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs that are potentially dangerous if left in the family’s medicine cabinet."

The event is free, it might free up some space in your medicine cabinet, and it'll let you free your mind from worry about what happens to your old prescription drugs. Please tweet about it, post it on Facebook, and let your friends and family free their minds, too.

If you'd like more information, visit the website for the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and download the press release about the event.

Would you like to participate? Round up the unwanted prescription drugs you'd like to turn in, keep them in their original containers, black out your name with a marker, and visit the DEA's Office of Diversion Control's site search resource so you can type in your zip code and find out where to take your drugs on Saturday. Remember, folks, this event is for prescription drugs only.

While you're at it, you might want to consider finding a better place to store your current over-the-counter and prescription drugs than your medicine cabinet. Ironically, temperature and moisture variance in the bathroom makes the medicine cabinet a bad choice of location for medicine, and no one using your bathroom should be able to stumble into a misadventure with your meds.

Got drugs? Are you going to clean out your medicine cabinet and turn them in to the DEA this Saturday? Let us know in the TalkBacks below.

Editorial standards