If you've got some old pills taking up room in your medicine cabinet, this is the easiest day of the year to get rid of them.
Saturday is National Drug Take Back Day, a yearly event aimed not only at helping people properly dispose of unused medications, but also preventing opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
If you live in Hennepin County, the local sheriff's department has three drop-off locations, each staffed by deputies so you won't even have to get out of your car to turn over your unused meds.
Those locations are:
- Brooklyn Center CVS - 5801 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Center, MN 55429
- Crystal Walgreen’s - 6800 Bass Lake Road, Crystal, MN 55428
- Robbinsdale CVS - 4152 Lakeland Ave N, Robbinsdale, MN 55422
If you live elsewhere, you can use the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's drop-off locator.
"70% of prescription drug abusers say that they obtained their supply of prescription medications from friends and family," a news release from the Hennepin County Sheriff says.
The release adds that properly disposing of opioids and other prescription drugs "can significantly decrease the likelihood of individuals having access to these highly addictive drugs."
The rise in opioid-related deaths in recent years has been described as a "crisis," with the National Institute on Drug Abuse saying that more than 115 people die of opioid overdoses in the U.S. every day.
Why can't I just throw my old pills away?
Simply tossing unused painkillers (or other meds) in the trashcan isn't as complication-free as it might seem.
According to TakeBackYourMeds.org, there are a couple of reasons this isn't a good idea.
One, the pills can still be stolen and fall into the wrong hands, even if you take steps such as mixing them with kitty litter or coffee grounds.
Two, the organization says, "medicines are a special type of hazardous chemical" that can pose certain environmental risks if they end up in landfills.
People are also discouraged from flushing old pills down the toilet, as doing so risks "polluting our waters, impacting aquatic species, and contaminating our food and water supplies."
Additionally, TakeBackYourMeds.org says, "most medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems."