National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the popular annual opportunity for Bellingham residents to clean out their medicine cabinets – and help prevent accidental poisonings or misuse – is coming up at the end of the month. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28 residents may bring their expired or unneeded prescription drugs to the Bellingham Police Department, 505 Grand Avenue, for safe disposal.
The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. It is limited to residential drop-off, no business waste will be accepted. Liquid medications and sharps cannot be accepted.
Over the past 14 years of “Take Back” days, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and partners have taken in over 9 million pounds – more than 4,508 tons – of pills. The initiative addresses a vital public health and safety issue. According to the DEA, unwanted medicines stored in home cabinets can fall into the wrong hands and lead to poisonings, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, flushing medicines down the toilet or throwing them in the trash can lead to pharmaceutical pollution in our waterways.
“Take Back” is the safest way to dispose of unwanted or expired medications: it keeps drugs out of the wrong hands, reduces the potential for poisoning or overdose, and protects waterways.
Safe and secure medicine disposal is also available year-round through the City of Bellingham's Medicine Return Program. Residents may take their unwanted or expired medications to:
- Hoagland Pharmacy: 2330 Yew Street, Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Unity Care NW Pharmacy: 218 Unity Street, Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed 12:30 – 1 p.m.)
- Haggen pharmacies at Barkley, Meridian and Fairhaven:
2900 Woburn Street, open 24 hours
2814 Meridian Street, open 24 hours
1401 – 12th Street, open 24 hours
Prescription narcotics and other controlled substances, such as Codeine, Hydrocodone, OxyContin, Percocet, Ritalin, Vicodin and Xanax are only accepted at the Police Department, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit www.cob.org/medreturn.