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Home » Uncategorized » Got prescription medications? Here’s how to dispose of them!

Got prescription medications? Here’s how to dispose of them!


Guest column special to the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Monday, September 9, 2019; Las Cruces, NM:  Have you recent lost a loved one and have suddenly realized your left with prescription medications? Maybe you have prescriptions you don’t need any more or some that are outdated.  Do you know what to do with them? What is the right way to dispose of them?

Since December 2016, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office (DACSO), in partnership with the Unified Prevention (UP!) Coalition for Doña Ana County, has provided a safe and anonymous way to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medications at the MedReturn drop box in their Las Cruces office lobby, located at 845 N. Motel Blvd.

“We have the box in our lobby to receive medications, if they meet the criteria,” states Captain Manion Long, Patrol Division Commander. “No loose pills, as this creates a safety hazard for the officers and the public.”

Medications collected in the MedReturn drop box are disposed of with the prescriptions collected during the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Prescription Drug Take-Back Days held in April and October across the nation. 

During April’s National Drug Take Back Day 9,386 pounds of prescription medications were collected by 94 New Mexico Law Enforcement Agencies.  In the last eight years these efforts have removed 85,858 pounds of medications from homes and communities reducing youth and others access to prescription pills and medicated patches.

Why is keeping unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs a problem?

According to the New Mexico Department of Health’s 2018 Epidemiology Profile report on Substance Abuse, 36 percent of unintentional drug overdose deaths in the state were caused by prescription drugs.  New Mexico has a higher percent of drug overdose deaths involving prescription drugs, at 24.6 percent, than the national average of 21.7 percent. Doña Ana County has seen a reduction in overdose death in the last several years, now at 17 percent, yet this is still concerning since all overdose deaths related to prescription medications are unnecessary, and such an event could happen to anyone.

Both the bi-annual Take Back Days, and the permanent prescription drug drop box, initiatives address a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that stay in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to prescriptions. 

Studies show that a majority of abused prescription medications are obtained from family and friends. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards. For this reason, Captain Long informs, it is important that residents are aware that they can dispose of their medications at DACSO, “Our hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we are happy to receive medications during normal operating hours.”

A MedReturn drop box is also available at the Hatch Police Department, located at Dept. 5 Chile Capital Lane.

For more information contact Marisol Diaz at (575) 597-0042 or email:

This news release is made available by the Unified Prevention (UP!) Coalition for Doña Ana County, a program of the Center for Health Innovation.  UP!  is a community coalition working to build community collaboration around efforts to reduce and/or prevent youth drug and alcohol use and abuse, address factors that increase risks of usage and promote factors that increase resiliency.