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Spring cleaning that can save lives: May 20 drug takeback events in five Michigan cities

Free, no-questions-asked chance to get opioids and other unneeded medicines out of the house, organized by U-M opioid-reduction project

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Medicine cabinets across Michigan need a good spring cleaning to keep people and the environment safe, and a free event on May 20 aims to make that easier.

At five locations across the state that day, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Michiganders can bring old, expired or just unneeded medicines to a convenient location to drop off, and drive away knowing they’ll be properly and safely destroyed.

The event aims to reduce the number of houses that have opioid painkillers on hand, as well as other medicines that shouldn’t be kept around or dumped in the trash or down the toilet.

The take-back events are sponsored by local health organizations and Michigan Medicine's Department of Anesthesiology, and organized through a University of Michigan initiative that aims to reduce opioids in the state through safer prescribing and increased opportunities to dispose of drugs properly.

The events will be held at:

  • Ann Arbor: Pioneer High School Parking Lot, 601 W Stadium Blvd., run by the U-M Department of Anesthesiology with help from the Ann Arbor Police
  • Escanaba – Walgreens, 2301 Ludington Street, run by Escanaba Public Safety and Walgreens
  • Jackson – Jackson Police Department Lobby, 216 E Washington Ave., run by the Surgery Department at Henry Ford Allegiance Health and Jackson Police
  • Saginaw – Heritage High School Parking Lot, 3465 N Center Rd., run by the Surgery Department of CMU Health/Central Michigan University College of Medicine and Saginaw Township Police
  • Traverse City – Thomas Judd Care Center, 3529 W Front St., run by Munson Medical Center and Traverse City Police
  • Pontiac – St. Joseph Mercy- Oakland, main lobby, 44405 Woodward Avenue, Pontiac – Hosted by St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, Oakland County Sheriff and Wayne State University School of Medicine

“We know that many people who have a tooth pulled, or an operation, or an injury, are prescribed medications that contain morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone or other opioids that can be misused or lead to addiction,” says Chad Brummett, M.D., a U-M pain researcher and Michigan medicine anesthesiologist. “We’re proud to partner with others to make it easy to get them out of the house before they fall into the wrong hands or get into the natural environment.”

Brummett co-leads the Michigan Opioid Prescribing and Engagement Network, based at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. He and his colleagues work with surgical teams and others across the state to reduce opioid prescribing while still ensuring patients’ access to pain control.

Each site will accept:

Prescription and over the counter pills, capsules and patches for humans and pets

Sites WON’T accept:

Liquid medications, EpiPens, creams or gels, needles or syringes or lancets, thermometers, IV bags, sprays, vials, inhalers or powders

For the most up-to-date information on times and locations, please check:

More about why it’s a good idea:

Safely disposing of medication protects communities, children, and the environment. According to the Monitoring the Future Survey conducted by the University of Michigan on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most of the teens who say they misuse prescription medications got them from friends or family members, with one-fifth to one-quarter reporting taking them without permission.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that more than 40 percent of poison exposures involve medications and pharmaceuticals.

Why not just flush my medications or throw them in the garbage?

Flushing medications down the drain or toilet can protect against misuse, but can contaminate lakes, rivers and groundwater as well as the public drinking water supply.

What if I cannot make this event?

The U-M team has created an online map of other places across Michigan that take medications back; most are at law enforcement agencies. Visit  and call to confirm a site’s hours of operation and continued participation in medication disposal.


My organization wants to host a take-back event; how do we start?  

The Michigan-OPEN team has published a guide for any community organization interested in hosting a drug take-back event; it’s online at .


For more information, visit or contact Michigan-OPEN at .


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