Iowans who are doing some spring cleaning this weekend can plunk all of their bottles of unused prescription medications into a bag and drop it off on Saturday for safe, anonymous disposal.

Dale Woolery, director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, says it’s an easy process, plus, it may save a life.

“This will be the 21st National Prescription Drug Take Back Day,” Woolery says. “Here in Iowa, over 89 tons of medications have been collected over that period of time.”

The one-day take back events are held twice a year. The collection in October of 2021 netted more than six-thousand pounds of prescription meds statewide. Woolery says it’s a quick search to find a location.

“In Iowa, we have nearly 400 permanent, year-round sites where you can drop off your medications, mostly in pharmacies and in law enforcement agencies in communities where they participate,” Woolery says. “Then for the one-day events, we have over 75 locations that are doing those.”

These take back events are a responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs, he says, while protecting the environment from improper disposal and preventing the dangerous misuse of opioid pain relievers and other prescription drugs.

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck need to get rid of these unused medications that can lead to things like misuse, addiction, overdose and death,” Woolery says. “If you’re wondering, ‘Where do I go,’ you can go online and search ‘Iowa take back’ and our website will come up and you’ll get a variety of information.”

Although Iowa ranks relatively low in rates of illicit drug use and overdose deaths, studies show opioid-involved overdoses claimed the lives of 258 Iowans last year, that’s up 64% over the last two years. National data show teen overdose deaths nearly doubled during that same period.