Why you should take back those unused or unwanted medications

  • Saturday is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

      Saturday is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer

  • Many law enforcement agencies throughout the region have drop boxes for prescription drugs available year round. This is at the Kane County Sheriff's Office in Geneva.

      Many law enforcement agencies throughout the region have drop boxes for prescription drugs available year round. This is at the Kane County Sheriff's Office in Geneva. Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer

  • Many law enforcement agencies throughout the region have drop boxes for prescription drugs available year round. This is at the Kane County Sheriff's Office in Geneva.

      Many law enforcement agencies throughout the region have drop boxes for prescription drugs available year round. This is at the Kane County Sheriff's Office in Geneva. Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/28/2022 5:50 PM

A different kind of spring cleaning being advertised nationally can provide benefits beyond a sparkling house, authorities say.

On Saturday, people are being asked to empty their medicine chests and cabinets of unused or unwanted medications for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

 

The event held in concert with law enforcement agencies throughout the country is intended to spotlight the potential hazards of keeping unneeded or expired medications and offering an avenue for safe disposal.

"If you don't dispose of the unwanted medications in your home, they could find a new one," according to a DEA promotional video. "They could end up lost, stolen or simply misused."

Pouring medications down the drain or flushing them down the toilet also can contaminate groundwater, streams and lakes and can harm people, wildlife and vegetation. Medications thrown in the trash can accidentally poison young children and animals, organizers say.

"It's just best if you're not using it to get it out of your house," said Carpentersville police Officer Kara Burroughs.

Police departments throughout the suburbs, many of which have a drop box on premises year round, will be participating in the event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., although some hours may vary.

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Visit deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/ to find a location.

The Carpentersville take-back event will be at the station, 1200 L.W. Besinger Drive. Medications can be brought in the pill bottles or in a zip-lock bag. Vaping devices and cartridges with batteries removed also will be accepted.

In Geneva, unwanted prescription medications, samples, over the counter drugs, vitamins, pet medications and noncontrolled substances will be accepted at the station, 20 Police Plaza.

Liquids, ointments, narcotics, thermometers, IV bags, sharps/needles, bloody or infectious waste or empty containers will not be accepted.

Barrington police working with state Sen. Dan McConchie and Walgreens will be holding a drive through event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the station, 400 N. Northwest Highway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In addition to collections at various police stations, sheriff's deputies will be at six locations throughout Lake County to accept unwanted or unused medications. Visit opioidinitiative.org/drug-disposal.

Expired medicines can be risky, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration because there is no guarantee they will be safe or effective.

Unused medications are dangerous, especially to children, the elderly and pets and can lead to drug abuse, misuse and accidental poisonings, according to the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County.

There appears to be strong support for the take-back event, which usually is held twice a year. Last October, 745,000 pounds of unneeded medications were collected at nearly 5,000 sites, the agency said.

However, Saturday isn't your only chance.

The DuPage County Health Department's RxBOX program, for example, is available at several locations. Visit hopedupage.org/161/RxBOX.

Lake County sheriff's Deputy Chief Chris Covelli said one misconception is some people think the only opportunities to dispose of unused or unwanted drugs is during the DEA drop-offs.

"In Lake County, through the Opioid Initiative, law-enforcement and private businesses have worked together to create numerous drop-off locations, which are available 24/7, and it's of great convenience to dispose of those items," he added.

Various medication drop-off sites also are available in Will County. Visit willcountygreen.com.

Disposal of unused or unwanted prescriptions is expected to get easier. A new state law, awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signature, requires drug manufacturers to pay for and run a statewide take-back program.

The new law once signed will take effect Jan. 1, 2024. Visit the news and events tab at swalco.org.

• Daily Herald staff writer Alicia Fabbre contributed to this report.

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