Purpose of Take Back

The Arkansas Drug Take Back was developed in 2010 to help Arkansas families secure, monitor, and dispose of their unused prescription medications. Most young adults who abuse prescription drugs get those substances from friends’ and families’ homes (NCBI, 2019). Recent data shows that overdose deaths in children under the age of 12 have been increasing along with the opioid crisis. When medications are left uncovered, children risk accidentally ingesting opioids left around the house (NCBI, 2021).

By keeping unused or old prescriptions in your medicine cabinet, you could put your loved ones at risk. Before you flush your old drugs down the drain, however, know that those medications will likely end up in your drinking water. Prescription drugs can’t be flushed or discarded into the trash. If thrown away hole, those drugs may be taken out of the garbage. Sometimes, people disguise drugs by mixing them into kitty litter or coffee grounds. However, those drugs seep into the earth, again finding their way into our water supply.

To safely dispose of drugs, community members can drop old prescriptions into their local Drug Take Back Box. Today, there are over 275 collection sites. Find your nearest Take Back Box collection site here. Let’s all do our part to keep our homes and communities safe.

Tons of prescription medication destroyed


Of the total prescriptions collected in Arkansas's four state DEA region

in the nation of pounds of prescription drugs collected per capita

History of Take Back

In 2010, the owner of a monument company in Benton, Russell Goodwin, approached Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane. He told Lane that he was tired. “Tired of making headstones for children,” he said. Too many young people in the Benton area were dying from prescription opioid abuse. At the same time, the Office of National Drug Control Policy called for an increase in prescription drug disposal programs. That Spring, the Benton Police Department held “Operation Medicine Cabinet” and collected 146 pounds of prescription medications. 

At the state level, former State Drug Director Fran Flener launched an on-going educational program to encourage everyone to “Monitor, Secure and Dispose” of their prescription medications. On a national level, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on September 25, 2010, which is held semi-annually. 

Permanent collection boxes are located at key locations throughout Arkansas communities. This allows the public to dispose of their unwanted medications throughout the year. Currently, Arkansas has more than 225 of permanent collection boxes, with at least one in every county in Arkansas.  Collectively, there have been 18 total Arkansas Drug Take Back Day events, and 17 national events. Results from the State Take Back in spring 2015 were rolled into the total results for National Take Back 10 held September 26, 2015.

Due to the commitment, dedication, and effort of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Community, its partners, and the multi-agency coalition, and due to excellent participation by Arkansans in all areas of the state, the take back events have been successful above and beyond all expectations.