Did you know that Colorado has a Medication Take-Back Program, and that the Valley-Wide Pharmacy (inside Alamosa Family Medical Center) is a year-round, registered drop off location?
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in partnership with the Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention developed the Medication Take-Back Program in response to the increased need for safe disposal of prescription medications. The abuse of prescription medicine is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, particularly among teens. Nearly 224,000 Coloradans misuse prescription drugs each year, and 1-in-6 of the states 12th graders has taken a prescription medicine that was not written for them. Visit takemedsseriously.org for more statistics.
Every year, Valley-Wide’s Take Back box gathers approximately 300 lbs of household medications to be safely destroyed. In the three years since Valley-Wide installed the box, that’s 900 lbs!
Can be accepted:
- Prescription medications, including prescribed controlled substances (DEA Schedule II– V).
- Over-the-counter medications.
- Liquid medications (small amounts in original, non-leaking containers).
- Medicated patches (Used Fentanyl and Duragesic® patches are extremely hazardous. They may be folded in half, sticky-side together, and flushed down the toilet.)
- Medication samples.
- Medicated ointments.
- Pet medications.
- Unused drug injection cartridges, e.g. unused EpiPens® and insulin pens (must be unused with needle still protected inside).
- Unused inhaler canisters, e.g. Advair®, Spiriva®, ProAir® and Ventolin® (must be unused, no empty canisters or unneeded plastic holders/mouth pieces).
Cannot be accepted:
- Illicit drugs (e.g. DEA Schedule I drugs like heroin, LSD, etc).
- Needles, syringes, and other sharps.
- Chemotherapy drugs.
- Medical tools and supplies.
- Bloody or infectious waste.
- Personal care products.
- Empty containers.
- Medication wastes generated by health care facilities, including nursing homes.
There are several drop off locations throughout the state. Please refer to this map for a location near you to help us stay safe and protect the environment.
If you can’t access a collection site, visit takemedsback.org to see if a collection event might be scheduled in your area. Mail-back envelopes or drug deactivation/disposal pouches can be purchased at some pharmacies. Ask your pharmacist for additional information. If none of these options are available, do not flush medications. Flushing can pollute water supplies. Follow the steps below for proper trash disposal.
- Mix medicines (but don’t crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds.
- Place the mixture in a container, such as a sealed plastic bag. A sealable container is preferred.
- Throw the container in your household trash.
- Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of it. Pill bottles that are made of #5 plastic are recyclable, so you may want to peel the prescription sticker off and recycle the bottle.
Currently there are no programs operating in Colorado that will accept unused drugs donated by individuals. However, other states operate programs that will, and will accept them by mail. These programs have strict guidelines that must be followed, including prohibitions on prescribed controlled substances, refrigerated medications, and expired or soon-to be expired medications. Wyoming’s Medication Donation Program and Iowa’s SafenetRx Program are two programs available to Colorado residents.
Help us make Colorado a safer place!