Do you have unused or expired prescription drugs in your home? They are a public safety issue, because they can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. Americans’ former methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

However, on Saturday, October 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its sixth opportunity in three years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your medications for disposal to MWRD’s O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant at 3500 Howard St., (at McCormick Blvd. near the border of Evanston and Skokie). The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish 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 these drugs. 

In addition to this event, Evanston residents can always take their unwanted and expired prescriptions to the front lobby of the Evanston Police Department at 1454 Elmwood Avenue, which is open all hours of the day and night for medication/prescription drug drop-offs.

The following items are acceptable for disposal at the Police Department: prescription medications, including controlled substances; all over the counter and pet medications; samples; vitamins; liquids and creams. Items not acceptable for deposit in the collection unit are: needles/sharps; thermometers; IV bags; bloody waste and hydrogen peroxide. Further questions about dropping off medications can be directed to the Community Strategies Bureau of the Police Department at 847-866-5019.