Take back your meds during Overdose Awareness Month

Friday, July 30, 2021

What can you do?

One thing you can do to prevent an overdose is to take back your unused medications. April 24 is the official day to take back your meds, but every day can be take back day.

Here is a brief report on what we did for this year's National Drug Take Back Day.

April 2021 National Drug Take Back Day summary

The Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) supported Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative (CPWI) communities and community-based organizations with awareness events and activities in recognition of National Drug Take Back Day on April 24.

Partners involved in organizing these activities include, but are not limited to, nonprofit organizations, pharmacies, healthcare facilities, colleges, schools, childcare facilities, youth groups, law enforcement agencies, the US Attorney’s Office, the US Drug Enforcement Agency, faith-based organizations, senior and assisted living facilities, food and homeless shelters, and local media outlets.

Planning began in January with the collaboration of community coalitions and organizations. Dozens of awareness events were provided to thousands of Washingtonians of all ages to raise awareness of the take back events happening around the state. Safe disposal collection sites were promoted, and safe storage containers and medication lock boxes were distributed. Due to COVID-19, a mailing option was available so that people could request a free envelope to send in their medications.

Take back community successes

During National Drug Take Back Day, we had some great successes with our communities that hosted take back events. A few examples are provided below.

  • Centralia had a community member who disposed of medications at the take back day event from a mother who had passed away 21 years earlier.
  • The Empowering People and Impacting Community (EPIC) Coalition out of Longview worked with local law enforcement in Longview, Kelso, and the Cowlitz Sheriff’s Department to collect approximately 676 pounds of medications.
  • The REACH Out Coalition in Walla Walla, in partnership with Walla Walla Area Crime Watch, collected 611 pounds of unused medications. REACH OUT was able to provide additional funding for advertising through the Starts with One Campaign to promote the event.
  • Over all the communities that participated, roughly 5897 pounds of medications were collected, 510 lock boxes were distributed, and 537,209 people were reached through various forms of media over the course of the event!

Take back media relations

To support take back efforts, HCA sponsored the Starts with One Take Back opioid prevention campaign during the month of April. Check out the website for campaign resources.

  • Take back event pitching: The media vendor Desautel Hege worked to advertise National Drug Take Back Day in participating communities. They designed promotional materials, ran advertisements, and media buys. 
  • Desautel Hege provided coalitions and communities with access to promotional materials so that they could also participate in local advertising.
  • Partner webinar training: Representatives from Desautel Hege and HCA recorded an informational webinar in March to discuss different promotional materials for people to use to promote take back events in their communities.

Remember, every day can be take back day. Check out the Department of Health website to learn how you can mail in your unwanted medication.