Safely disposing of medications helps prevent drug overdose

By Regence
October 28, 2022
prescription bottles

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, Oct. 29

Substance use disorder and overdose death have been increasing across the United States in recent years. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that, although drug overdose deaths have decreased slightly from a peak in 2021, drug overdose deaths are significantly higher than before the pandemic started in 2020. Of those drug overdose deaths, opioids cause significantly more deaths by overdose than other drug classes. Some of these opioids are prescriptions that are misused by the original prescriber or used by someone who was not originally prescribed the medication.

Many people receive opioids after medical procedures for pain management but don’t need them long-term. They may not finish the bottle of medication and the extra pills sit in the medicine cabinet unused. Accessible, unwanted prescription drugs like this are easily misused. 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.

Anyone can be susceptible to overuse of leftover prescriptions medications including post-partum mothers, older people, teenagers and even younger kids. 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. 29 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.

We are here to help

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance misuse, the CDC advises early intervention to reduce overdose risk. 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 its part through a multifaceted approach to reduce opioid prescriptions by 51% from 2015 to 2020.