Drug Take Back Programs

Before the new federal prescription drug disposal guidelines were established, many thought it was OK to flush unwanted medicines down the drain or toilet rather than keep them in their home. Even though it was effective in getting medicine out of the house, there is new information showing that these substances are now ending up in our drinking water.

There are many community programs that can help you to get rid of pharmaceuticals without having to flush them.

World Medical Relief is able to accept certain unopened prescription drugs that have six months or more before their expiration date, and do not require refrigeration.

Oakland County – Operation Medicine Cabinet:
This program is sponsored by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, and has 36 law enforcement prescription drug drop-off locations throughout Oakland County. Operation Medicine Chest boxes only accept prescription drugs.

Livingston County – Big Red Barrel Program: 
Barrels can be found at all State Police posts in Michigan for disposing of pills, capsules and liquids; no needles or syringes are accepted. This site provides locations as well as instructions for disposing of medications.

Washtenaw County – DontFlushDrugs.com:
Here you’ll find information from Washtenaw County on local Drug Take Back programs where citizens can dispose of prescription or over-the-counter pills, including controlled substances, for free.

DEA Authorized Collectors:
The public can search the DEA’s authorized drug collector database online, or call 1.800.882.9539 to find a collector in their community.

Disposal at Home – Do not flush:
Federal prescription drug disposal guidelines are designed to reduce the diversion of prescription drugs, while also protecting the environment. These guidelines urge Americans to:

Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers. Mix the prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, like used coffee grounds, cat litter, or old latex paint, and put them in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, further ensuring that the drugs are not diverted or accidentally ingested by children or pets. Throw these containers in the trash.

What to do with sharps:
Sharps include syringes, needles, and lancets. These items should be placed in hard-plastic or metal containers with a screw-on or tightly secured lid, such as liquid laundry detergent bottles or metal coffee cans. To dispose of them you have a few options. One, take them to your local Household Hazardous Waste Collection (in Wayne County call 734.326.3936). Two, label “Not Recyclable” on top of the lid after taping shut with heavy-duty tape, then put it in your regular trash. Third, for recommendations and links for proper disposal, including mail-back programs, click here.