Minneapolis — Medications play an important role in healthcare. Prescriptions, when used properly, can alleviate pain and help a body heal. However, medications can also lead to addiction, crime, and even threats to the environment.

Opioids are a class of medications prescribed to alleviate pain. Opioids are at the heart of a recent National Health Emergency declaration. The medications are highly effective at managing severe and chronic pain. However, they come with a high risk for addiction. Medical experts say even people who use them exactly as prescribed can become addicted to them.

The National Drug Enforcement Agency has declared October 26 as National Rx Drug Take Back Day. Learn more here

Law enforcement agencies and health experts say our country is facing an opioid crisis. Each day in the United States, 100 people die from opioid overdoses. Last year in Minnesota 402 deaths were blamed on opioid misuse. Experts with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office say 70% of people who abuse opioids get them from a family member’s or friend’s medicine cabinet. Law enforcement agencies say there is a thriving black market for opioids and other pain medications.

Many addiction counselors will tell you prescription medications are this generation’s drug-of-choice. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. But it’s not just opioids causing problems. Almost any type of medication can be abused. That includes over-the-counter meds like cough syrup, allergy pills, and even vitamins.

What to do with unused, unwanted, and outdated medications

Check your medicine cabinet for prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines. Then take your un-used, unwanted or expired medications to a secured drug drop off site. There are more than 240 designated disposal locations across Minnesota. Use this link to find a drug collection location. The information is gathered and managed by the Minnesota Attorney General’s office.

The nation’s Drug Enforcement Agency also has a drop site locator. Find it here: DEA Drug Takeback locator


Here are some additional places to seek help dealing the prescription drug abuse and the disposal of unwanted medications.

Minnesota Attorney General’s Dose of Reality

Find help for drug addiction.

Chasing the Dragon documentary:

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

If you or someone you know takes too large of a dose or accidentally takes the wrong medication, call the MN Poison Control Center immediately at 800-222-1222.

About this project

Health Fair 11's Rx Drug Drop Off program is a project of Health Fair 11, a nonprofit organization. Health Fair 11 campaigns are made possible with the support of UCare and KARE 11 TV.