DEA National Drug Take Back Day

National Drug Take Back Day - April 27, 2024

The DEA is hosting a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day event on October 28, 2023, from 10am - 2pm.

Take-back events and programs encourage dropping off unused or expired prescription drugs, including controlled substances and non-controlled substances.

Find a Take Back event location near you

What is “Take Back Day”?

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) hosts the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice a year in which temporary collection sites are set up in communities nationwide for the safe disposal of unused prescription drugs.

Who Can Dispose of Controlled Substances?

Only ultimate users may drop off their controlled substances to authorized collectors or law enforcement at a take-back event, collection receptacle, or through a mail-back package program. The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) defines "ultimate user" as "a person who has lawfully obtained, and who possesses, a controlled substance for his own use or for the use of a member of his household or for an animal owned by him or a member of his household."

Get more information on controlled substances.

The general public fact sheet provides more information including what medication can be disposed of through the take-back events and programs. 

Want more information on how to safely dispose of unwanted medicine?
Visit DHEC's "Unwanted Medications" page.

Want to Get More Involved in Your Community by Hosting a Take-Back Event or Becoming an Authorized Collector?

Take-Back Events

General information and resources on the DEA's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day are available here:

Only law enforcement may conduct take-back events. While the DEA sponsors the biannual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, typically the last Saturday in April and October, law enforcement agencies may conduct take-back events at any time.

Any person or group may partner with law enforcement to promote and coordinate take-back events. Persons and groups may assist law enforcement at take-back events as long as law enforcement maintains control and custody of the controlled substances throughout the event.

Law enforcement agencies in South Carolina wishing to host a collection site should call the DEA at 803-253-3441.

See the DEA rule for more information on take-back event requirements.

Collection Receptacles

Only law enforcement and authorized collectors may maintain year-round collection receptacles or sites for disposal of prescription drugs and in accordance with DEA regulations.

See a complete list of the law enforcement and authorized collector sites allowed to accept unwanted medications from the public on a routine basis.

Who Can Become an "Authorized Collector?"

Manufacturer, distributor, reverse distributor, narcotic treatment program, hospital/clinic with an onsite pharmacy, or retail pharmacy that is registered with the DEA for Schedule II controlled substances.

How do Eligible Entities Become Authorized to Collect?

Eligible registrants may modify their DEA registration to become authorized collectors. There is no fee for modification of the DEA registration.

Once authorized, these entities are called authorized collectors and may operate collection receptacles and mail-back programs (see below) in accordance with DEA regulations. Authorized collectors that no longer wish to collect must adhere to DEA regulations for ceasing activities, including modification to their DEA registration.

More information about authorized collectors and collection receptacle requirements is available here.

Mail-Back Programs

Law enforcement and authorized collectors with an on-site method of destruction may operate a free or fee-based mail-back program. Authorized collectors that do not have an on-site method of destruction cannot receive packages and have them transported off-site for disposal. Thus, an authorized collector without an on-site method of destruction that wants a mail-back program may need to partner with a reverse distributor, and utilize the return address of the reverse distributor. To minimize potential for diversion, the packages must meet DEA specifications including instructions for the user to mail back the package and the substances that can be sent.

For more information on mail-back program requirements, see the DEA rule.


Drug Control