Our next Medication Take Back Event will be on

April 27, 2019


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Host a take back event in your community


About our opioid take back events

Community opioid and medication take back events provide a safe process for disposing of unused medications while protecting our communities, children and environment. Michigan OPEN hosts biannual take back events, once in the spring and once in the fall to coincide with the school year. At Michigan OPEN, we believe that medication take back events provide a unique opportunity to educate the people in your community about opioids, and more importantly how to safely use, store, and dispose of these medications. As we know from previous research, many people will not dispose of their medications otherwise, increasing the potential that they are diverted into our community and waterways. Increasing safe and convenient opportunities for community members to dispose of their unused and leftover medications is essential for preventing opioid abuse before it begins. Take back events are a great opportunity for community organizations and passionate individuals to come together to make a difference in their local community. If you already have a medication take back event in your community, email michiganopen@umich.edu to find out how you can turn a regular disposal event into an educational Michigan OPEN medication take back event.

Previous Events

Our most recent event was held Saturday, October 27, 2018. Michigan OPEN and partners in 32 Michigan counties made the Fall 2018 Take Back Event our largest yet, with 60 participating locations across the state. The Fall 2018 event more than doubled the number of locations from the Spring 2018 event. The collective effort resulted in hundreds of families safely removing a total of 3000+ pounds of medication, including approximately 40,000 opioid pills, from their homes while also increasing awareness in the community about safe medication disposal. When take back event participants were asked how they disposed of medications prior to coming to the event, more than 50% answered, “did not dispose,” highlighting the need for these community events.

Interested in hosting an event in your community? Click the link below to find out more:

Hosting a Medication Take Back Event


Why host a medication take back event?

The United States is currently experiencing an epidemic of prescription drug misuse and abuse. 12.5 million people age 12 and older misused opioids (pain medications) in the past year. Since 1999, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled. Every day, 115 Americans die from an opioid-related overdose – that is more than the number of people killed in car accidents or by guns.

What is an opioid? Opioids relieve pain by affecting how your brain and central nervous system process painful stimuli and are often prescribed during episodes of acute pain, such as after surgery, trauma, or dental procedure. However, a recent study found that approximately 70% of the opioids prescribed for surgery go unused, making them vulnerable to diversion and misuse.

To turn the tide on the opioid epidemic, we need to prevent opioid abuse before it starts. Increasing safe and convenient opportunities for community members to dispose of their unused and leftover medications is essential. A recent study found most of the teens reporting use of prescription medications obtained them from friends or family members, with 20-25% reporting taking them without permission. Leftover opioids also pose a poison risk to young children. Every 10 minutes a child visits the emergency room for medication poisoning.

What is required to host a medication take back event?

A take back event requires a law enforcement partner, a location, volunteers, and a collection receptacle for the pills. Opioids are controlled substances regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. An armed law enforcement officer must be present at all times and maintain custody of the collected medications. The Michigan OPEN Medication Take Back Event Guide can assist you with planning and management of your take back event.

What are existing methods for disposing of opioids?

Approved opioid collectors, primarily pharmacies and law enforcement agencies, and special take back events are the safest and most environmentally-friendly means of disposing unneeded medications. If these options are not available, recommendations are to remove pills from their container and throw them away in household trash with an unpalatable substance or flush them down the toilet. Unfortunately, flushing medications leads to pharmaceuticals being discharged into our surface and ground water. Managing unused, unwanted and expired medications is a safety as well as an environmental concern. Safety and accidental poisoning concerns for smaller children and family pets are on the rise, however, headlines across the nation are focusing on two distinct areas of concern: the contamination of drinking water supplies with pharmaceuticals, and the rise of teen abuse of prescription medications.

For more information, please see our page on Safe Drug Disposal.


Take Back Event Updates