Here’s what you should know to safely get rid of unwanted medications
Hennepin County reports that the Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with Hennepin County Environment and Energy, collected and destroyed 21,940 pounds of unwanted medication in 2015, a record annual amount since the inception of its medicine disposal program.
Prescription painkillers are one of the primary routes for people to become addicted to opiates and, eventually, heroin.
“We’re heading in the right direction. Opiate deaths are down, medicine disposal is up, and that’s due largely in part to the residents of this county,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. “My hope for the New Year is that the community continues to fight this opiate battle alongside us. That’s the only way we can win.”
The Sheriff’s Office destroyed 16,700 pounds in 2014, 13,720 pounds in 2013, and a grand total of 57,721 pounds of prescriptions drugs since the medicine disposal drop boxes were first made available in March 2012.
The Sheriff’s Office urges residents to properly dispose of their expired and unwanted medicines at seven drop boxes located throughout the county (see below). The newest location is the Maple Grove Police Department lobby, which got a drop-off box this summer.
Why proper disposal is important
- To prevent abuse or poisoning. Storing unused medicines in the home poses safety and health threats. Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem, especially among teens. Accidental poisonings from medicines are also on the rise.
- To protect the environment. Medicines flushed down the drain or disposed of in the trash can contaminate bodies of water, harm wildlife and end up in drinking water supplies.
- Prescription drugs that are most often abused — if unused or unwanted, these are important drugs to remove from your home: painkillers like Vicodin, Tylenol with codeine, OxyContin, Percocet; depressants like Xanax, Valium, Nembutal; stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta.
- Use of the program is free.
- No ID is required.
- Bring medicines in their original containers.
- If the medicine is no longer in the original container, place the medicine in quart-sized plastic bags. To avoid clogging the drop box, please do not bring medicines in gallon-size plastic bags or plastic shopping bags.
- The box is self-serve. Pull the handle to open it and then drop the medicines into the box. Drop the whole container — packaging and pills — into the box.
Medicines from households are accepted, including: Prescription medicines, including controlled substances; over-the-counter medicines; vitamins and supplements; pet medicines.
Medicines are accepted in the following forms: aerosols, blister packs, capsules, creams, gels, inhalers, liquids, patches, pills and powders.
No needles, sharps or syringes; no thermometers; no bandages, glucose meters, medical tape or other medical supplies; no empty pill bottles — you can recycle your empty pill bottles at home; no medicines from businesses, including healthcare facilities, pharmacies, pharmaceutical representatives, doctors’ offices and veterinary clinics.
Medicine drop box locations
- Brooklyn Center — Hennepin County Library/District Court, Brookdale, 6125 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Brooklyn Center. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday, noon to 5 pm.
- Brooklyn Park — Hennepin County Sheriff’s Patrol Headquarters, 9401 83rd Ave. N., Brooklyn Park. Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm.
- Edina — Hennepin County Library, Southdale, 7001 York Avenue South, Edina,
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday, noon to 5 pm.
- Maple Grove Police Department, 12800 Arbor Lakes Pkwy. N., Maple Grove. Hours: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Minneapolis — Hennepin County Public Safety Facility, 401 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis. Hours: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Minnetonka — Hennepin County District Court Ridgedale, 12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday, noon to 5 pm.
- Spring Park — Hennepin County Sheriff’s Water Patrol, 4141 Shoreline Dr., Spring Park. Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm.
Hennepin County does not provide service to pick up medicines directly from your home. If someone contacts you offering this service, please call your local law enforcement agency.
Information provided by Hennepin County.