In Sept. 2018, Boulder Community Health’s Foothills Hospital became
an official location for community members to safely dispose of expired
or unused medications. BCH has now collected more than 1,000 pounds of
home medications – an average of 100 pounds per month.
The collection receptacle, located in the Emergency Department waiting
area at Foothills Hospital, is available for anyone to use to dispose
of expired or unused household medications 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The program helps curb the improper disposal of medications and keeps prescriptions
and controlled substances from being taken by someone for whom they were
not prescribed. Prescription medications are the most commonly abused
drugs for 12-and 13-year-olds, while 50 percent of drug abusers obtain
these medications from family and friends.
As an independent, community-based health care organization, BCH began
participating in the Colorado Household Medication Take-Back Program in
response to requests from community members. Many people were unsure of
how to properly dispose of medications, which can lead to medications
and controlled substances ending up in landfills or water supplies. BCH
is listed as a drop-off site with the Colorado Department of Public Health
& Environment (CDPHE) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Specific Disposal Requirements
The medication take-back program is targeted at specific medications and
substances which may be disposed of in the receptacle.
Medications and substances which CAN be disposed of include:
- Prescription medications
- Prescribed controlled substances (Vicodin, OxyContin, Adderall, Ritalin)
- Over-the-counter medications
- Liquid medications (non-leaking containers)
- Pet medications
Other medications and substances which CANNOT be accepted for disposal include:
- DEA Schedule I drugs (heroin, LSD, ecstasy)
- Needles, syringes and other sharps
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Medication waste
The CDPHE and DEA both recommend blacking out any personal information
on medication containers before disposing in the collection receptacle.
We encourage conserving space in the receptacle by pouring your pills
or capsules in a zip-top bag and then separately recycling the original
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
The medication take-back program is one of many ways in which BCH is addressing
the opioid epidemic. The rate at which potent drugs such as codeine and
fentanyl are prescribed has quadrupled since 1999. Opioids, both prescription
and illegal, have become the leading cause of accidental death in the
U.S. More people now die nationally of opioid overdoses than die in car crashes.
From June through November 2017, BCH’s Foothills Hospital Emergency
Department (ED) was invited to participate in a Colorado Hospital Association
(CHA) initiative intended to combat this public health crisis by reducing
the use of opioid medications in hospital emergency departments. BCH was
chosen because our ED is a recognized leader in responsible pain management.
During the Colorado Opioid Safety Pilot, ED staff utilized new treatment
guidelines developed by the Colorado Chapter of the American College of
Emergency Physicians that included specific recommendations for using
alternatives to opioids (ALTOS) as the first option for treating pain
rather than opioids. Examples of ALTOs include familiar medications like
acetaminophen, ibuprofen and lidocaine. When medically appropriate, these
ALTOs replaced commonly prescribed opioids such as codeine, morphine and
fentanyl. During the study period from June through November 2017, the
use of ALTOs increased 37 percent and the Foothills ED achieved a 32.9
percent reduction in opioid use compared to the same period in 2016.
Although the Colorado Opioid Safety Pilot has concluded, BCH facilities
continue to use the new guidelines to treat pain successfully. We’ve
long recognized that preventing harm is as important as improving health.
BCH has partnered with the City of Boulder, Boulder County Public Health
and CDPHE to prevent the spread of opioid abuse and treat opioid dependence
through reducing new opioid prescriptions by offering non-opioid medications
in the ER, inpatient and ambulatory settings.
BCH’s Center for Mind Body Medicine treats patients suffering from
debilitating health problems – chronic back, neck or pelvic pain,
migraines and other hard-to-treat medical conditions – that haven’t
responded to traditional medical therapies. This mind-body clinic will
teach patients how to manage their chronic pain using alternative strategies
such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation and non-opioid