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    Dispose A Med

    Got Drugs? September 27, 2014 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

    This event will be held on September 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. Learn more...

    Find a Disposal Location
    Have unused medication you would like to properly dispose?
    Find a disposal location
    Dispose A Med is comprised of concerned citizens like yourself focused on minimizing the abuse of prescription medications amongst teens and preventing accidental drug poisonings of children and the elderly. By providing a safe and effective method of drug disposal, the Dispose A Med program minimizes the introduction of pollutants into our environment and helps insure high quality water in our aquifers.

    Formed in 2009, Dispose A Med includes representatives from a variety of community partners including law enforcement, fire departments, pharmacies, water and wastewater utilities and community coalitions.

    Our Mission

    To protect the public health and safety, protection of the environment and preservation of our groundwater quality through the safe collection and disposal of unwanted medications and personal care products.

    Proper Medicine Disposal Step-by-Step

    There are numerous websites and pamphlets providing advice for the disposal of unused medications and many of these recommendations conflict with one another. Therefore here is a step-by-step guide recommended by Dispose A Med.
    1. Don’t flush medications down the toilet or down the drain.
      Sewage treatment plants cannot remove all of the pharmaceutical contaminants which could result in the pollution of our streams and the aquifers from which our drinking water is derived.

    2. Proper Medicine DisposalDon’t dispose of medications in the trash.
      There is ample literature advising people to mix unwanted medications with coffee grounds, kitty litter or similar undesirable substances prior to disposal in a trash receptacle. While this method may prove adequate for preventing the accidental ingestion by children or domestic pets, it does not address the wildlife that may come into contact with the trash once it is outside of your home. Our Sonoran Desert is inhabited by numerous wildlife species including coyotes, coatimundi and our favorite cactus eating friends the javalina, with less discerning tastes that love to rummage through garbage cans. None of us wants to leave for work in the morning to find our neighborhood streets littered with drug crazed, or worse, dead javalina.

    3. Bring your medications to a local Dispose-A-Med collection site, preferably still in the bottle.
      Don’t dump all of your medications into a single bag when transporting to a collection site. Should you happen to get pulled over by police en route to the collection site, you may have a hard time explaining the large bag of pills in your possession. Just leave the pills in the original bottle so they are easily recognized as medications and not illegal drugs. Besides, the Dispose-A-Med members will gladly remove the labels for you to ensure your privacy and personal information is secure. The bottles are then recycled or donated to Pima Animal Control for their spay and neuter program where the bottles are reused in the dispensing of antibiotics and pain medications for pets.

      Find disposal events and locations.

    4. So what happens to all those pills?
      After each collection event, all collected medications are incinerated in coordination with DEA. The high temperature incinerator effectively decomposes the pharmaceutical compounds thereby preventing pollution of the air, water and environment.

    Want to Get Involved?

    Whether you’re a parent or not, please learn more about how you can get involved and make a difference. Contact us through our feedback form to find out how you can help.

    The Challenge

    An environmentally friendly alternative to safely dispose of your unused medications.

    Impact on Our Communities

    Improper storage and disposal of unused medications is increasingly becoming a problem in communities throughout the country. While improper disposal of unused medication poses an unknown threat to the environment and our water supplies, the health effects from substance abuse are extremely alarming. The non-medical use of prescription pain relievers is now the second-most prevalent form of illicit drug use in the Nation with a 400% increase in emergency room admissions and substance abuse treatment centers.

    A Drug Abuse Problem

    Dispose A Med displayOur national prescription drug abuse problem cannot be ignored. Every day, 2,500 teenagers use a prescription drug to get high, many for the first time. Each year more than 71,000 children ages 18 and younger are seen in emergency rooms for unintentional overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. While a large percentage of kids obtain them within their own home resulting from improper storage and ease of access from their parent's medicine cabinet, most teenagers report obtain prescription drugs from friends.

    Unintended Consequences

    Even if you no longer have kids in your home and think this really doesn't apply to you, think again. Do your children or grandchildren visit your home? Each year there are thousands of calls to poison control and emergency rooms resulting from the unintended consequences associated with accidental poisonings of children, the elderly and also pets. In fact, prescription drugs are quickly becoming a primary target of home burglaries putting the elderly at an even greater risk.

    Our Community Partners

    We want to thank our community partners for making this program a possibility.

    About Us

    Pima County Health Department

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    Tucson Water

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    City Tucson

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    Household Hazardous
    Waste Program

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    Pima Association of
    Governments

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    Pima County Sheriff's
    Office

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    Oro Valley Police Department

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    Town of Sahuarita

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    Town of Marana

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    Kyle Franks Foundation

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    Green Valley Community
    Coordinating Council

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    Sharps, Inc

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    Walgreens Pharmacies

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    Fry's Food & Drug Stores

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    Desert Sunset Funeral Home

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    Adair Funeral Homes

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    Arizona Poison and
    Drug Information Center

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    About Us

    Mountain Vista Fire Department

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    About Us

    University of Arizona
    College of Pharmacy

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    About Us

    Pima County Regional
    Wastewater Reclamation
    Department (RWRD)

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    About Us

    Golder Ranch Fire District

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    Optimist International

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    Casa Grande Alliance

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    The Apothecary Shops

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    Canyon Del Oro High School

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    About Us

    Desert Sunset Cremation
    and Funeral Services

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    About Us

    Amistades, Inc.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Improper storage and disposal of unused medications is recognized as a serious problem in communities throughout the country.

    For the first time ever, poisoning surpassed car crashes as the number one cause of injury deaths in Arizona1, and more than 2,000 kids had to go to emergency rooms last year from unintentional poisoning. Kids under 5 had the highest rates of non-fatal emergency department visits from poisoning. National statistics from 2006 show over 1.3 million cases of unintentional, non-fatal poisonings each year and approximately 43% involved children five years of age or younger.2

    Non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as the most common form of drug abuse in America, and the majority of teenagers abusing prescription drugs most likely get them from the home medicine cabinet.3

    In addition to the immediate health hazard to the individual, unused drugs inappropriately disposed in toilets contaminate the community's water supply. Proper disposal of unused drugs saves lives and protects the environment. 4

    Where can I dispose of my unused or expired medications?

    The best way to dispose of your medications is to take them to a Dispose-A-Med event in the community. You can find the next event on our calendar page. You can bring your prescription and over-the-counter tablets, capsules, liquids, inhalation aerosol bottles, syringes, epi-pens, and creams. If possible, leave medication in its original container to speed up the process. This service is free and anonymous - no questions asked. If you have more questions after visiting the web site, please call (520) 243-7911.

    I can't attend one of the next Dispose-A-Med events. What other options are available to dispose of medications?

    Your best option is always the Dispose-A-Med events. Flushing medication down the toilet, or throwing it out with the household trash is a potential source of groundwater contamination. Medications collected in the Dispose-a-Med program are incinerated, which has proven to be the most environmentally responsible means of disposal.

    If you are unable to attend one of those events, you can mix your medications with something like kitty litter or coffee grounds in a plastic bag that you can throw in the trash. This will help reduce the chance of someone else or an animal discovering or consuming your medications.

    How do I dispose of my needles and syringes?

    Needles and syringes are hazardous medical waste and should be disposed of properly. To reduce the risk of needle stick injuries, the City of Tucson and Pima County are asking residents to dispose of needles and syringes in the following manner:
    • Place all needles and syringes in a secured, puncture-proof plastic container with a screw-on lid such as a detergent or bleach bottle.
    • Once filled to no more than 2 inches from the top, tightly secure the lid and reinforce with duct tape.
    • Clearly label the container "NON-RECYCLABLE".
    • Place the container into your trash - do not place this container in with recyclables.

    Can I collect meds from my friends and take them to a Dispose-a-Med event?

    Collecting unused medications from friends is not recommended but there may be circumstances in which you are caring for or assisting an ailing friend or relative. If you collect unused medications from friends or relatives, please leave the medication in its original container.

    Why isn't there a centralized location to dispose of medications and syringes?

    Current regulations regarding the handling of controlled substances require that law enforcement take possession of those medications. The Drug Enforcement Agency has strict guidelines for the handling and disposal of controlled pharmaceuticals under the Controlled Substances Act and we must follow these guidelines. Because of this, law enforcement is required at each event and our local agencies cannot afford to staff this function full-time.

    1 - Arizona Health Status and Vital Statistics 2010, http://www.azdhs.gov/plan/report/ahs/ahs2010/pdf/text2b.pdf
    2 - Unintentional Child Poisonings Treated in United States Hospital Emergency Departments: National Estimates of Incident Cases, Population-Based Poisoning Rates, and Product Involvement , Pediatrics, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/122/6/1244.full
    3 - Got Drugs, DEA, http://www.dea.gov
    4 - PPCP's as Environmental pollutants, US EPA, Environmental Services, June 2001
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    Dispose A Med

    3950 S. Country Club Road
    Tucson, AZ 85714

    Phone: (520) 243-7911
    Fax: (520) 791-6587
    Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - noon and 1 - 5 p.m., except on holidays.


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