Arkansas Drug Take Back Returns, Partnership with National DEA Program

press release

The Arkansas Drug Take Back Day returns for an 11th year with nearly 300 sites across the state for residents to dispose of expired or unused medications.

Prescription medicines are a toxic waste and pose a danger to people, pets, and the environment if they are not disposed of properly. Medicines flushed or poured down the drain end up in the waterways, affecting our drinking water.

More than half of the 444 reported drug overdose deaths in Arkansas in 2018 involved opioid medications and more than 70,000 Americans died from overdoses in 2019. But there is something we can all do to reduce these deaths. Monitor and secure all medications at all times, and when they are ready to be disposed, do so in an environmentally save method – take them to any of the 250-plus permanent drug take back boxes throughout Arkansas or join us for the 20th Arkansas Prescription Drug Take Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 24, 2021. To find locations throughout the state, go to and click the Collection Sites tab.

“Arkansas remains the second highest opioid prescribing rate in the nation, which makes this program partnership with the DEA critical for keeping state residents safe and healthy,” said Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane. “Getting all those unneeded and expired medications out of medicine cabinets, or anywhere they are stored in the home, to a Take Back Day event site ultimately will save lives by keeping them out of the hands of those who will misuse them. This program also keeps them out of the water supply, as we’ll have them destroyed in an environmentally safe method at a local facility.”

The prescription medications will later be counted for statistical purposes and destroyed at a facility in an environmentally safe manner. Disposing of expired or unused medications at a Prescription Drug Take Back Day event or permanent drop box protects our health, environment, communities, and it saves lives.

Throwing medications in the trash, even if they are mixed with materials such as kitty litter or coffee grounds, will still make it to a landfill and seep through the soil and into ground water. There’s also a danger of people and/or pets finding medications in the home – The Animal Poison Control Center said 17 percent of pet poisoning calls in 2020 were attributed to over-the-counter medications and 15 percent of calls was attributed to human prescription medications.

Arkansas has remained in the top 15 in the amount of medications collected since the first DEA National Drug Take Back Day event started on Sept. 25, 2010. Though the state is 33rd in population with slightly more than 3 million people, Arkansas ranks 2nd nationally in pounds collected per capita and 9th in total weight collected. The Arkansas Department of Human Services and the Office of the State Drug Director thank all Federal, State, and local agency partners as well as the community organizations and public health providers who continually make Arkansas’s Drug Take Back Day one of the foremost prevention programs in the state.

Two-thirds of teenagers & young adults who report abuse of prescription medications say they get the majority of the medications from friends, family & acquaintances.

  1. DON’T leave medication bottles or pill cases lying around
  2. DON’T store medicines in an unsecured medicine cabinet or bathroom drawer
  3. DON’T ignore warning signs (Ex: bottles tampered with, pills missing or drugged behavior of someone in your home)
  4. DO lock up medications in a lock box or hide them in a safe place
  5. DO keep track of medications – count pills, make marks on liquid containers
  6. DO keep track of refills – refilling medicine more often than expected can indicate a problem
  7. DO encourage relatives, friends & neighbors to monitor medications & participate in the Arkansas Drug Take Back Day.

To find AR Drug Take Back Day locations throughout the state, go to and click the Collection Sites tab ( ) and type in your zip code. The site will continue to update locations throughout the month until the event date. While there, be sure to download the nARcansas app- a free resource containing tools to administer naloxone, an opioid antagonist, in the moment of an opioid overdose and continued steps to save a person’s life. Though it should be used in an emergency situation only, Naloxone has no effect on non-opioid overdoses. The nARcansas app was created in a partnership with the Office of Arkansas Drug Director, Criminal Justice Institute, Division of Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services and Team Si. Naloxone is available for purchase by the public at pharmacies throughout Arkansas.

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