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Michigan OPEN

Take Back Events Program

Host an Event!

  • Did you know? OPEN will support any sites interested in hosting a take back event.
  • Where to start? Check out our Take Back Event Guide.
  • Need event disposal boxes or reimbursement for law enforcement? OPEN can assist!
  • Complete this form for access to FREE resources, event disposal boxes, and opportunities for event reimbursement.
  • OPEN will add your site’s information to our website and marketing opportunities to get the word out!

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Why Host a Take Back Event?

Prevention is key. To turn the tide of the opioid epidemic, we need to prevent misuse before it begins. Creating safe and convenient opportunities for community members to dispose of their unused and leftover medications is essential. Community take back events are one of the safest and most environmentally-friendly means of disposing unneeded medications. Take back events are a great opportunity for community organizations and individuals to come together to make a difference in their local community. These events not only remove unused medications, they provide an opportunity to educate the public on safe storage and disposal of prescription medications.

How Do I Host a Take Back Event?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) selects a day in the spring and the fall to host nationwide events. OPEN partners with local communities in Michigan to support events; we offer educational resources, guidance on planning, and even financial support where possible. OPEN is a great resource to advise on planning and implementation processes. It is the event organizer’s responsibility to seek additional information where required, ensure that all approvals have been obtained, and adherence to all Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations. OPEN provides our free, downloadable Medication Take Back Event Guide to outline each step of the event planning process from start to finish, along with a timeline and sample budget.

Take Back Event Success


Each day more than 200 Americans die from opioid overdose. Prescription opioids play a significant role in overdose and death, and unused opioids are an opportunity for medication diversion, misuse, and overdose. Approximately 71% of dispensed pills from post-surgical prescriptions go unused and often are left unattended and unsecured in patients’ homes for years. These pills may be diverted for misuse by others, as 54% of those who used a prescription medication for non-medical purposes obtained the medication from a friend or relative. Opioid poisoning among children has increased over the last several decades. There is also a significant economic burden associated with pediatric opioid poisoning. Take back events are one method for medication disposal that can protect you, your family, and your community. 

Getting Started with Take Back Events

Making the case

  1. Create urgency, stress the need for the event, and provide awareness of the opioid epidemic  
  2. Seek support from OPEN, your organization, and others in the community
  3. Set and implement project aims 

Forming the Team 

In order to host a successful Take Back Event, it is important to get the whole community involved. Begin by forming a team comprised of volunteers and law enforcement. Your team members will be critical to spreading the word and ensuring that everything runs smoothly on the day of the event. 

Responsibilities of Event Organizer 

  • Review OPEN Medication Take Back Event Guide 
  • Create and review budget
  • Connect with law enforcement and other partners 
  • Recruit volunteers and delegate tasks 
  • Create and distribute promotional and educational material

Responsibilities of Volunteers: 

  • Advertise for the event (ex: distributing flyers)
  • Contribute to other tasks (ex: ordering food, picking up brochures, etc.)
  • Set up and clean the day of the event 
  • Run workstations 
  • Direct traffic, greet participants, and answer questions 

Responsibilities of Law Enforcement: 

  • Maintain control and custody of collected substances 
  • Dispose/destroy controlled substances in accordance with local, state, and federal guidelines
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requires one law enforcement officer present, unless the event uses a permanent disposal box 
  • Michigan OPEN recommends the presence of at least two officers 

Choosing the Venue 

The venue you choose can impact the success of the event. The location alone can influence attendees both positively and negatively. As a result, when choosing the venue, you should take your time and collaborate with local law enforcement.  

Things to consider when choosing a venue: 

  • Easy entrances and exits for participant safety
  • Well known or easy to find location 
  • Space to set up tent (if outdoors) and/or tables 
  • Sufficient parking and accessible via public transportation 
  • Access to restrooms 
  • Safe perimeter around event

Event Day

Disposal of Collected Substances 

While law enforcement will maintain control and custody of your medication disposal box contents, YOU are responsible for the collection and disposal of any liquids or sharps you receive. 


  • Supplies: large size resealable plastic bags and kitty litter OR drug deactivation products 
  • Pour liquid medication into the kitty litter bags and throw into the garbage OR
  • Follow instructions for Drug Deactivation Kit disposal
  • Do NOT flush liquid opioids down the toilet 


  • Supplies: sharps container or container made of heavy duty plastic that cannot be punctured and has a tight fitting lid (make sure it can sit up right and that it is not filled more than ⅔ of the way)
  • Do NOT use water bottles, metal cans, or glass jars  
  • Do NOT throw sharps or used sharps containers into trash or recycling
  • For disposal:
    • If using a hospital container: contact hospital for instruction
    • If using red purchased container: read instructions on how to pay to ship the filled containers for incineration 
    • If using homemade containers: visit to find a disposal location in your area, contact your regular garbage collector and ask about container pickup, OR contact your city, village, or town office and ask about hazardous household waste collection events 


  • Inhalers can be returned to certain permanent disposal sites. Call ahead of time to ensure the site accepts inhalers for disposal. 
  • Inhalers can be returned using appropriate mail-back envelopes, such as these envelopes available through American RX Group. Follow the instructions included with the envelope to return the inhaler(s). 


  • Patches can be returned to a local permanent disposal site. Call ahead of time to ensure the site accepts medication patches for disposal. 
  • Patches can be returned using mail-back envelopes. 
  • Patches can be placed into an activated carbon drug deactivation pouch. Follow the instructions on the pouch to effectively deactivate the medication patches.

Need More Information 

While it might seem scary to host and organize a take back event, Michigan OPEN is here to help. Simply check out the Take Back Event Guide for more tips and advice on how to plan a successful event and that will help keep you, your family, and your community safe.

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