Providing residents with safe, convenient access to proper medicine disposal.
The SafeMeds program (formerly West Michigan Take Back Meds Program) is a joint effort between local pharmacies, law enforcement, wastewater treatment facilities and government agencies to provide residents with safe, convenient access to proper medicine disposal. SafeMeds includes many local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies accepting your unwanted medications.
Disposing of your medicines at one of these locations will ensure that your medicines will not be stolen from the garbage, will not enter our environment and eliminates the potential for abuse and overdoses at home.
SafeMeds Program includes many local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies accepting your unwanted medications.
of meds taken back so far!
What Type of Meds?
What NOT to Do
Flush Down the Toilet
Pour Down the Drain
Throw in Garbage
What Can Happen
Pollution in Our Great Lakes
Adverse Affects on Wildlife
Contaminated Water Supplies
Prescription Drug Abuse
Theft From Home or Trash
Take to a local Pharmacy
Take to a drop-box
The Problem with Improper Disposal of Prescription Drugs
Currently there are few safe and convenient ways for consumers to dispose of unused prescription drugs. Twenty to sixty percent of prescription medications go unused and are eventually disposed. Nearly all unused pharmaceuticals enter either our solid waste system or our sewage system. Neither disposal method is environmentally sound. Pharmaceuticals flushed down the toilet pass through our sewage treatment plants, which are generally not designed to screen for these chemicals. Pharmaceuticals discarded in landfills can seep into the surrounding water table. Several studies, including a 2002 analysis by the US Geological Survey of 139 streams across 30 states found that 80 percent of waterways tested had measurable concentrations of prescription and nonprescription drugs, steroids, and reproductive hormones.
It is important to remember that many of these substances are biologically active. Simply put that means the ingredients can cause problems in humans and animals.
Abuse and Overdoses
“The abuse of prescription drugs is our nation’s fastest-growing drug problem,” said Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske. Because prescription drugs are legal, they are easily accessible, often from a home medicine cabinet. Further, some individuals who misuse prescription drugs, particularly teens, believe these substances are safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a healthcare professional and sold behind the counter.
A federal study released in June of 2010, found that ER visits for misused prescription and over-the-counter drugs are now as common as visits for the use of illegal drugs. In 2008, the misuse of pain relievers — including oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone — led to about 305,000 ER visits, more than double the number in 2004. And this new study shows it is a problem that affects men and women, people under 21, and those over 21.
A drug overdose is the accidental or intentional use of a drug or medicine in an amount that is higher than normally used. All drugs have the potential to be misused, whether legally prescribed by a doctor, purchased over the counter at the local drug store, or bought illegally on the street. Taken in combination with other drugs or alcohol, even drugs normally considered safe can cause death or serious long-term consequences.
Children are particularly at risk for accidental overdose and account for over 1 million poisonings each year. People who suffer from depression and who have suicidal thoughts are also at high risk for drug overdose. Accidental overdose may even result from misuse of prescription medicines or commonly used medications like pain relievers and cold remedies.
Unwanted medicine disposed in the trash can be stolen and used, potentially resulting in death or illness.
Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs
Medicines From Individual Residents Only
What will the pharmacist accept for disposal?
- Prescription medications (Non-controlled)
- Cold and flu medications
- Vitamins/herbal supplements
- Pet medications
- Medication Samples
- Medicated ointments/lotions
How do I prepare the medication?
For both solids (pills) and liquids bring medications in their original container. Block out ALL identifying personal information on the prescription label. Do not remove the name of the medication .The pharmacist must be able to see the medication type so he/she can properly sort it. Bring the bottle to the participating pharmacist so he/she can properly sort and dispose of the medication.
What won’t the pharmacist accept?
- Controlled substances (take these to a law enforcement drop box)
- Sharps – Needles, lancets, syringes, epipens (see below for other options)
- IV bags
- Hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, etc.
- Aerosol Cans
- Electronic devices – diabetes testers etc.
- Empty containers
- Business Waste – schools, medical offices, group homes other health care facilities
- Chemotherapy medications
How To Dispose of Unacceptable Items
Examples of controlled substances are amphetamines, Valium, Ritalin, morphine, methadone and oxycodone. These drugs have a high potential for abuse. Current regulations allow only the patient or law enforcement to legally have custody of the drug. Medications that the DEA considers controlled substances, can be dropped off at a local law enforcement agency.
- Controlled Substance Drop Box Locations
- Law Enforcement Drop Box Locations
- List of Common Controlled Substances
Empty bags go in trash (not recyclable) If the bag contains a fluid return the bag to the home care provider, pharmacy or other medical provider. They can dispose of the waste safely and properly. It is not recommended that chemotherapy agents be disposed in the trash or poured down the drain.
Household Generated Sharps
Beginning January 4, 2016, Kent County residents may request a free container from any KCHD facility. After completing a brief registration form, KCHD will issue a sterile approved container that users may take home. Once full, the container can be returned to any KCHD facility where it will be exchanged for a new one. KCHD will not accept sharps in any container that was not issued through this program.
Contact the dispensing physician and pharmacy to address proper disposal of chemotherapy medications. These medications are highly toxic and designated as dangerous waste. This classification requires the medications to be handled and incinerated in a different way which is not accessible through West Michigan Take Back Meds.
KCHD facilities will issue and accept containers during normal business hours (see below) at the following locations:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday: 8:00am – 11:30am, 12:45pm – 4:45pm
1st/3rd/5th Thursdays of the Month: 12:45pm – 4:45pm
2nd/4th Thursdays: 10:00am – 12:30pm, 1:45pm – 6:45pm
- Kent County Health Department – 700 Fuller Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
- Sheldon Clinic – 121 Franklin SE, Grand Rapids
- South Clinic – 4700 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Kentwood
- North County Clinic – 4388 14 Mile Road NE, Rockford
Household Hazardous Waste Program
Contact local Household Hazardous Waste Program for disposal of:
- Hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, etc.
- Aerosol Cans
- Mercury containing products; thermometers, batteries
- Pesticides; Lice shampoos, flea baths & powders, insecticides
- Nail polish & nail polish remover, perfumes
- SafeChem Program
Acceptable To Trash
Personal care products – lotions, soap, shampoo, suntan lotion, deodorants, non-flammable cosmetics, and other non-medicated products you apply to your body.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment Rules for Business Waste: Mixed Medical Waste Guidance.
Toolkit contains the following information:
Brochure & Flyers
- Information for the general community
- Information for daycare providers
- Information for parents
- Information for schools
- Information for senior citizens
- Information for veterinarians
Power Point Presentation
The power point slides can be used by anyone to educate themselves or others about why the community should be concerned about proper medication disposal, where medications can be taken, and how medications should be prepared for disposal.
This 5 minute video discusses why the community should be concerned about proper medication disposal, where medications can be taken, and how medications should be prepared for disposal.
This document can be reproduced in your organization’s newsletter. We ask that you remember to site the original source.
Pharmaceutical Website Links
Pharmaceuticals in the Environment
- Environmental Protection Agency Information
- Alliance for the Great Lakes
- Pharmaceuticals & Personal Care Product
- Environmental Health Perspectives: Drugs in the Environment
- The Truth About Unwanted Medication – Video
- Waste Water Treatment information
Pharmaceutical Abuse & Prevention
- Addictions & Recovery – Help Guide
- National Council On Patient Information and Education
- National Drug Policy and Prevention
- Drug Abuse Information DARE
- Prescription and Over-The-Counter Drug Abuse
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- DEA Demand Reduction
- Partnership for a Drug Free America – Drugs by Name
- Good Medicine, Bad Behavior: Drug Diversion in America
Local Law Enforcement Agencies with drop-off boxes
- Cedar Springs
- East Grand Rapids
- Grand Rapids
- City of Holland
- Kent County Sheriff’s Department