Drug Disposal Demonstration Project


The Comprehensive Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Program takes aim at one of the unsung drivers of the nation’s substance use epidemic—unused prescription medications that fill American medicine cabinets—by aligning state and local efforts to dispose of drugs with successful federal initiatives such as the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

The program is enabling eight sites nationwide to purchase drug disposal and collection equipment so they can safely dispose of both prescription medications and controlled substances in compliance with DEA and other federal guidance.

By enlisting local partners such as law enforcement agencies, first responders, service providers, and pharmacies in their efforts, the sites will work to ensure maximum community buy-in and sustainability. The projects will feature leadership groups comprising public safety and public health partners dedicated to making safe drug storage and disposal a high public priority, as well as public education campaigns designed to raise community awareness of their efforts.

The new program is grounded in the reality that the United States is awash with unused and undisposed prescription drugs: At least 40 percent of prescription medications are not completely used and are likely to remain inside the home, where insecure storage poses serious risks to vulnerable populations such as children, adolescents, and individuals with substance use disorders.

In the face of this challenge, drug take-back programs have emerged as an effective strategy for safe disposal. The DEA launched National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in 2010 to engage Americans actively in the safe disposal of prescription medications with the support of both public safety and public health agencies. Since then, the program has collected nearly 13.7 million pounds of expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

EMPOWERING PUBLIC SAFETY AND PUBLIC HEALTH PARTNERS IN CITIES AND STATES ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO SAFELY DISPOSE OF PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS AND CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES