Medication Take Back

Where to Dispose of Your Medications?

A secure drop box is located in the Needham Police Department lobby- accessible 24/7 for medication disposal.

View flyer (PDF)

Contact the Needham Public Health Department at 781-455-7940 ext. 504 or email Catherine Delano.

This service is a joint partnership between the Needham Public Health Department, Needham Police Department and the Substance Prevention Alliance of Needham (SPAN).

Note: Needles, thermometers, medical waste, or illicit drugs such as cocaine or marijuana will not be accepted.

Facts About Prescription Drug Abuse

  • In 2008, there were 6.2 million Americans aged 12 years and older who abused prescription drugs for non-medical purposes within the past month - more than the number of people who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants, combined.
  • In 2008, on average, 5,965 persons per day abused prescription pain relievers for the first time. The total number of individuals that initiated with any controlled substance pharmaceutical (pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives) for the first time exceeded the number of individuals that abused marijuana for the first time.1
  • According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released in 2009, the total number of new initiates using pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives was 2,512,000 and those initiating with marijuana was 2,178,000.
  • Every day, on average, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time.
  • 1 in 7 teens admit to abusing prescription drugs to get high in the past year, 60% of teens who abused prescription pain relievers did so before the age of 15.
  • 56% of teens believe that prescription drugs are easier to get than illicit drugs.
  • 2 in 5 teens believe that prescription drugs are much safer than illegal drugs. And 3 in 10 teens believe that prescription pain relievers are not addictive.
  • 63% of teens believe that prescription drugs are easy to get from friends' and family's medicine cabinet.
  • According to the Center for Disease Control, prescription drugs, including opioids and antidepressants, are responsible for more overdose deaths than street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines.
  • DEA works closely with the medical community to help them recognize drug abuse and signs of diversion, and relies on their input and due diligence to combat diversion. Unfortunately, egregious drug violations by practitioners do sometimes occur - fortunately doctor involvement in illegal drug activity is rare. When violations do occur, DEA will pursue criminal, civil, and administrative actions against such practitioners as warranted.

DEA & Diversion

What is the DEA Diversion Control Program?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Office of Diversion Control:

  • Has a specialized workforce focused exclusively on diversion and the laws and regulations of prescription drugs established through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA ).
  • Enforces the laws and regulations relating to the CSA, and regulates those who are registered to handle prescription drugs.
  • Maintains an in-depth knowledge of the entire supply chain from importation, through production, to distribution of prescription drugs in the legitimate pharmaceutical market.

What is the Problem?

The diversion of pharmaceuticals is a growing problem in the United States, and the DEA is doing its part to respond to this threat, which includes the national take back program scheduled to take place across America on Saturday, September 25, 2010.

Quick Facts

  • Unintentional overdose deaths involving prescription opioids increased 175% between 2001 (3,944) and 2006 (11,001), the most recent year data is available.
  • In 2008, there were 6.2 million Americans aged 12 years and older who abused prescription drugs* for non-medical purposes within the past month - more than the number of people who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants, combined.
  • The economic costs of diversion and abuse of prescription drugs is steep. For example, the estimated cost to public and private medical insurers is $72.5 billion a year.
  • Prescription drug diversion often involves individuals who doctor-shop or forge prescriptions and unscrupulous physicians and pharmacists. It also has traditionally flourished over the Internet. However, it is estimated that up to 62 percent of teens get prescription medicines for non-medical use from family and friends homes and medicine cabinets.

Note: *Prescription drugs refer to controlled substance pharmaceuticals controlled under federal law and enforced by the DEA.

What Else is DEA Doing About Diversion?

  • Nearly doubling the number of Special Agents assigned to diversion investigations over the past two years, with additional Special Agents, Diversion Investigators and other prescription drug resources planned for FY 2011.
  • Establishing Additional Tactical Diversion Squads made up of Special Agents, Diversion Investigators, state and local police officers, and other federal agencies. This task force concept has proven effective in taking on prescription drug traffickers around the country.
  • Using the tools given to DEA by Congress. This includes the use of criminal prosecution, civil suits, and administrative actions against those who divert prescription drugs. For example:
    • Taking civil and administrative actions against manufacturers, distributors and retailers of prescription drugs who violate the CSA or its implementing regulations. In 2008, DEA took action against two large distributors that resulted in record-breaking civil fines.
    • Implementing The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act. This act makes it harder for cyber-criminals to illegally sell prescription drugs via the Internet and easier to prosecute them when they are caught.
    • Supporting the passage of legislation that will give the Attorney General and DEA the authority to authorize the take back of unused, unwanted, or expired controlled substance medications for proper disposal.
  • Developing important resources to help explain the dangers of prescription drug abuse. This includes the websites for parents and for teens; a prescription drug guide Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine; and the DEA traveling exhibit Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause which has been seen by nearly 10 million visitors. It opens in Tampa, Florida next spring.


  • Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in this country. For more information please visit the DEA's website.
  • For an electronic copy of the 2010 National Prescription Drug Threat Assessment please go to the National Drug Intelligence Center.
  • For more information on DEA's enforcement actions and DEA in the news, please go to the DEA's website or DEA Diversion.
  • For factual information from the DEA on the impact of drug and prescription medication abuse among youth and adults check out Get Smart About Drugs.