Unused or expired prescription medications and some over-the-counter medications are a public safety issue. The medications could lead to accidental poisoning, misuse or overdose. Proper disposal of drugs is good for us and the environment. According to the DEA and the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants and 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives in 2019. The survey also showed a majority of misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from home medicine cabinets.
The website for the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy within the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department is a useful source of information.
Local Disposal Options
Several local pharmacies, clinics and hospitals have drug take-back kiosks available to dispose of medications. Call the pharmacy that filled your medication or visit a pharmacy in your neighborhood to speak with staff to find out if they have a kiosk. If they do not, they can usually refer you to a location nearby.
This DEA website has a link at the top of the page to find a medication disposal location near you. www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/index.html.
Six Albuquerque-area police substations accept medications for proper disposal Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Only pills are accepted. Doctor-prescribed and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbal supplements and pet medications can be taken to the substation. Remove all medications from their original containers, including pills in foil, and place them in a sealable bag. Substations do not accept liquids, injectables or syringes, chemo or medical waste, inhalers or other personal care items. For more information, call the Metropolitan Forensic Science Center at (505) 823-4200.
• Foothills Area Command
12800 Lomas NE, (505) 332-5240
• Northeast Area Command
8201 Osuna NE, (505) 823-4455
• Southeast Area Command
800 Louisiana SE, (505) 256-2050
• Valley Area Command
5408 2nd NW, (505) 761-8800
• Southwest Area Command
6404 Los Volcanes NW, (505) 831-4705
• Northwest Area Command
10401 Cibola Loop NW, (505) 768-4850
The city of Albuquerque’s website provides additional information, including that other prescriptions can be disposed of in your regular trash following the steps below:
• Pour medication into a sealable plastic bag. If medication is a solid — pill, liquid capsule, etc. — crush it and add water to dissolve it.
• Add an absorbent material such as kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds to the plastic bag.
• Seal the plastic bag and place into the trash.
• Protect yourself by destroying all identifying information from medical containers before recycling.
• Consult your pharmacist with any questions.
Several sites discourage flushing medication or washing it down the drain due to potential harm to water systems.
Donation Program for Prescription Drugs
New Mexico does provide for the donation and redistribution of previously dispensed prescription drugs that have not been used. According to the New Mexico Drug Donation Guide, the objective is to ensure the safe donation and redistribution of unused prescription drugs by licensed clinics and participating practitioners. On the N.M. Board of Pharmacy website, there is a tab for applications and forms. Click and scroll to near the bottom to “forms” to find the Prescription Drug Donation Program. Open the file to find the forms, along with participating practitioners and health clinics. There are strict requirements and oversight of this program.
Durable Medical Equipment and Computers
Durable Medical Equipment: Donate or Request
Adelante is a local nonprofit organization that offers recycling of durable medical equipment. The Back in Use program recycles assistive devices and gives them to people with disabilities and seniors in need of such items as wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds and more. All durable medical equipment is inspected, cleaned and sanitized before it is distributed. Back in Use relies on donations of such equipment to pass on to people in need. Equipment must be in good working order as they do not make repairs.
Due to the continuing pandemic, they are taking donations by appointment only. Call (505) 341-7171 to make an appointment to donate or a request for equipment.
Computers: Donate or Request
Adelante also operates a program of computer donations and re-use called DiverseIT. Refurbished computers are given to people with qualifying disabilities who cannot otherwise afford them. DiverseIT also provides computers to nonprofit organizations. To make an appointment, call 505-341-TECH(8324) or, to learn more about donating or requesting equipment, visit their website, goadelante.org/diverseit/.
Sources: NM Board of Pharmacy, www.rld.nm.gov/boards-and-commissions/individual-boards-and-commissions/pharmacy/; City of Albuquerque, www.cabq.gov/police/programs/pharmaceuticals/#disposal-locations; goadelante.org/disability-services/assistive-equipment-biu/; goadelante.org/diverseit/.