colorado household medication take-back program boulder community health foothills hospitalAs of September 2018, Boulder Community Health’s Foothills Hospital is an official location for the Colorado Household Medication Take-Back Program. The drop-off receptacle is located in the emergency department waiting area at Foothills Hospital and is available for patients, staff, and the public for use in the disposal of household medications.

By law, only retail pharmacies, hospital or clinic pharmacies, and law enforcement facilities may have these official medication take-back receptacles. We are also listed as a drop-off site with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Many people have unused or expired medications at home but are unsure of how to properly dispose of them. Most often, people simply just throw away or flush their medications. This can lead to medications and controlled substances ending up in our landfills and water supplies.

The program is an effort to help curb the improper disposal of medications as well as help keep prescriptions and certain controlled substances out of the hands of those who they’re not prescribed to, especially children. The public has been asking for our participation in this program and as a community-based health care organization, we take the needs and concerns of those in the community seriously.

All BCH staff, patients, their family members and the public are welcome to drop off their personal expired or unused medications and certain prescribed controlled substances. However, there are specific requirements as to which medications and substances may be disposed of in the receptacle. Hospital medications are not to be disposed of in this collection receptacle.

Other medications and substances which CANNOT be accepted for disposal include:

  • Marijuana
  • DEA Schedule I drugs (heroin, LSD, ecstasy)
  • Needles, syringes and other sharps
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Medication waste

Medications and substances which CAN be disposed of include:

  • Prescription medications
  • Prescribed controlled substances (Vicodin, OxyContin, Adderall)
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Vitamins

A more comprehensive list of medications and substances which can and cannot be disposed of in this receptacle can be seen in the slideshare below.

This program is also a way for us to help address the growing opioid crisis. Research shows that prescription medications are the most commonly abused drugs for children aged 12-13 and that 50% of drug abusers obtain medications from family and/or friends. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 160,000 people died from prescription opioid-related overdoses between 1999 and 2014 in the U.S. This program is a small step in preventing prescription medications from being taken by those for whom they were not prescribed.

The CDPHE and DEA both recommend blacking out any personal information on medication containers before disposing in the collection receptacle. And while placing the original medication container in the receptacle is allowed, you can conserve space by pouring your pills or capsules in a zip-top bag and then recycling the original containers separately. We encourage all employees to share this information with patients and their families to help make this program a success.

For more information, please email pr@bch.org.