On April 27, 2019, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will hold its 17th National Take Back Day. This twice-yearly, national event celebrates the safe disposal of prescription medications. Previous events were huge successes. The DEA encourages people around the country to partake in the initiative.

What is National Take Back Day?

National Take Back Day is a national event hosted by the DEA that encourages people throughout the country to learn how to dispose of their leftover medications safely. The DEA works with local law enforcement and pharmacies around the country to establish drug drop-off locations where people can bring their leftover medication for free, safe disposal.  

When is National Take Back Day?

The next National Take Back Day is on April 27, 2019. There are two National Take Back Day events each year: one in the spring and then one in the fall. Previous events took place in April/May and October.

The April 27, 2019, event is scheduled to take place from 10AM to 2PM, though times may vary based on location.

While National Take Back Day makes it easier than usual for people to turn in their unneeded medications, it’s not the only day the option is available. People can easily search for local prescription drop-off locations to find a location near them that accepts unused prescriptions throughout the year.

How National Take Back Day Helps Fight Drug Misuse

National Take Back Day is often a person’s first contribution against the opioid crisis and drug misuse in general. Because an estimated 39 percent of people who misuse prescription drugs get them from friends or relatives, participating in the event greatly reduces the chance that your loved ones misuse your prescriptions. Everyone should take a moment to learn how to safeguard prescription drugs at home to prevent potential misuse.

People living with addiction have difficulty controlling their urges when in search of their next high. Sadly, many people pilfer the medicine cabinets of their friends and family members in search of drugs that can satisfy their cravings and deter withdrawal from setting in. Having excess medication stored throughout a house may be too tempting for your friends or family members to ignore.

Whether out of craving or simple curiosity, people can misuse spare prescription medication to get high. Don’t be the dealer. By safely disposing of your unused prescription medications you’re eliminating the chance of third-party misuse.

National Take Back Day Statistics

Previous National Take Back Days saw tons of prescription drugs brought in for safe disposal. Literal tons. The statistics are impressive:

October 2018 National Take Back Day: 457.12 tons collected at 5,839 collection sites
April 2018 National Take Back Day: 474.5 tons collected at 5,842 collection sites
October 2017 National Take Back Day: 456 tons collected at 5,321 collection sites
April 2017 National Take Back Day: 450 tons collected at 5,498 collection sites

Utilizing the statistics provided by the DEA, an estimated 1,837 tons of prescriptions were collected at events since April 2017’s National Take Back Day. That’s 3,674,000 pounds in just four days.  

The October 2018 National Take Back Day utilized 4,770 law enforcement participants from across the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. With 288 participants, Texas had the most law enforcement participation.

However, based on weight, California collected the most dropped-off prescriptions during the same event. The top three states that collected the most were:

  1. California (69,077 pounds)
  2. Texas (67,494 pounds)
  3. Wisconsin (66,090 pounds)

These statistics show how necessary it is to provide people with ways to safely dispose of their unused prescription medications. If not for these events, tons of potentially dangerous medication could still be accessible.

How to Find a Drop-Off Location Near You

The DEA’s National Take Back Day website provides users with a collection site locator. The locator allows users to input their location and a selected search radius to find a drop-off site nearby. The DEA encourages people to check the website often, as new collection sites are added to their lists every day.

Alternatively, Googling the phrase, “drug drop off near me” pulls up a localized list of locations that will accept your unused prescriptions.

What to do if You Miss National Take Back Day

If you miss the April 27, 2019, event, don’t worry. Another National Take Back Day event happens in the fall, likely in October if the event’s scheduling trend continues. Although, a better option is to dispose of unneeded medications at approved drop-off locations as soon as possible.

You can Google the phrase, “drug drop off near me,” to find locations that accept unused prescriptions throughout the year. Most law enforcement offices are designated drop-off sites, and some Walgreens and CVS pharmacies have secure drop-off boxes. If you live in a rural area, call ahead to make sure that your destination can accept your prescription, as not every location can accept unused prescriptions.

If you or a loved one misuse prescription medications due to addiction, contact The Recovery Village. With individualized treatment programs, patients can address their addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders in a safe, supportive environment. Start your healthier future today.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. “Prescription Drug Use and Misuse in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” September 2016. Accessed April 3, 2019.

Drug Enforcement Administration. “Take Back Day.” Accessed April 3, 2019.