On Dec. 5, students, faculty and staff can safely dispose of any unused or expired prescriptions and other drugs, no questions asked.

Drug Take Back Day, a partnership of USC Pharmacies and USC Student Health, allows Trojans to safely turn in their medications at stations located in all USC Pharmacies, including those located in the Student Union and directly across from the Engemann Student Health Center and the Eric Cohen Student Health Center. The USC Verdugo Hills Hospital will also have a drug disposal station.

USC’s Drug Take Back Day on Thursday is one component of a broader educational campaign on the dangers of opioids and other drug use and abuse, an issue that has plagued the nation’s public health in recent years.

“Many people have leftover prescription medications, including attention-deficit medications such as Adderall, pain medication or even antibiotics,” said Sarah Van Orman, MD, MMM, clinical professor of family medicine at Keck School of Medicine of USC and chief health officer for USC Student Health. “An easy way to protect your family, fellow students and the entire community is to dispose of these properly. Sharing even a few tablets of any medication can be very dangerous.”

Drug Take Back Day can benefit student health and the environment

Proper disposal of medications helps ensure they don’t get misused and abused if they end up in the wrong hands. It also prevents pollution of the environment, as chemicals flushed down the toilet or thrown in the garbage both directly and indirectly contaminate water systems and soil.

“We are offering this opportunity to our entire community because finding a proper way to dispose of medications can be difficult,” said Raffi Svadjian, PharmD, MBA, executive director of community pharmacies and assistant professor of clinical pharmacy for the USC School of Pharmacy. “This will decrease the chances of unused medications leading to accidental poisoning, misuse and overdose, and may help save lives and protect the environment.”

All pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications will be readily accepted by the disposal stations, which are registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. According to Svadjian, the only exception is non-capped syringed medications.

Experts agree that there are several types of drugs that can present a greater community hazard when left unattended than others. Opioids — such as Oxycontin and Vicodin — and benzodiazepines like Xanax and Klonopin are highly addictive and pose a significant risk for misuse and abuse. These substances can also be lethal when mixed with other substances.

— Andrea Bennett

Find out more about Drug Take Back Day, including details on dropoff locations.