Help prevent drug overdose and addiction by safely disposing of medications

By Regence
October 19, 2021

Mark your calendar for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Saturday, Oct. 23

COVID-19 disrupted daily life, leaving many people struggling with substance misuse isolated and without access to behavioral health resources. In 2020 while the pandemic grabbed the headlines, rates of addiction also rose and total U.S. drug overdose deaths climbed 33%.

Western states, including Washington, reported record overdose deaths in 2020, and the growing impact of fentanyl took a huge toll. But accessible unwanted prescription drugs also remain a risk for misuse. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, most misused prescription drugs were from family and friends, often old or unfinished prescriptions in the medicine cabinet.

One way to reduce the risk of misuse is to safely dispose of those medications, and an easy way to do that is coming up.

DEA Drug Take Back Day

Saturday, Oct. 23 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, a twice-yearly event sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It’s an opportunity to do your part to prevent overdose deaths and drug addiction through proper disposal of your unwanted prescription drugs. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., drop off unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications (including opioids), e-cigarettes and vape pens to safe disposal collection sites.

The DEA offers a list of collection sites nationwide, many of which are open year-round. You can find one near you by entering your ZIP code in the Drug Take Back Day collection locator.

Best practices for safely storing and disposing of medications at home

If you are unable to participate in DEA Drug Take Back Day, you can make a difference year-round at home. Not all medications can or should go in the sink or toilet when no longer needed, and only some prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs can be thrown in the trash. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers information for safe disposal of medication at home.

DEA Drug Take Back Day
During the last DEA Drug Take Back Day in April 2021, Americans safely disposed of over 420 tons of unwanted medications.

Regence is committed to bringing light to mental health and substance misuse

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance misuse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises early intervention to reduce overdose risk. Opioid use disorder decreased significantly in 2018 and 2019, credited to the positive effect of increased access to Medication-Assisted Treatment, psychosocial and community recovery supports as reported by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders.

Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on, or call us for help finding the right behavioral health resources. You can also read about how Regence has worked to do our part through a multifaceted approach to reduce opioid prescriptions by 51% from 2015 to 2020.