County of Marin - News Releases - Drug Take-Back Month

For Immediate Release
March 19, 2021

Prevent Misuse of Drugs During Challenging Times

April is Marin’s Drug Take-Back Month

San Rafael, CA – Our environment affects our mental health. An unprecedented long-lasting public health pandemic coupled with economic uncertainty due to job and business loss and other impacts have produced an extraordinarily stressful environment for many. Some have turned to the use of substances to relieve their stress, and some may even be tempted to take old prescription medications stashed around the house.

Now, however, is the time for the community to eliminate that risk.

Two hands are shown depositing a plastic bag of pills into a receptacle.Most police stations in Marin County have a drop-off receptacle for unused and unneeded prescription medications.
The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) collaborates with RxSafe Marin, a local grassroots community initiative, to address what’s described by public health officials as an epidemic of opioid-related overdoses.

Marin’s Drug Take-Back Month is April, and it’s a perfect chance to deposit unused and unwanted medications into one of 24 receptacles located around the county or take advantage of a mail-back option that is also available. The theme? Safe disposal saves lives.

The next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, April 24, coordinated by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Due to the continued challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, as done in October 2020, Marin HHS is declaring the whole month of April as Drug Take-Back Month.

“We are in such challenging times and many are struggling; substance use and overdoses have increased nationally,” said HHS Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Dr. Jei Africa. “There’s so much uncertainty and fear with COVID, impacts of climate change, and what’s going on socially and politically. We have to ensure that our homes remain safe, so take-back opportunities are critical to ensure that unused medications are safely disposed.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the pressures of daily life for those already suffering from substance use disorders. In the months leading up to May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths over a 12-month period was recorded in the U.S.

More than 17% of Marin adults reported needing help with mental health or substance use problems, according to the 2019 California Health Interview Survey. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that a majority of misused prescription opioid medications were obtained from family and friends in some way – usually given to them or taken without asking. Medicines that languish and are left in unlocked locations are highly susceptible to diversion and misuse.

To address the widespread availability of prescription drugs, agencies, pharmacies and health care providers across Marin participate in the collection of potentially harmful expired, unused, and unwanted medications throughout the year. The 24 dropoff locations throughout Marin include CVS pharmacies, Kaiser Permanente locations, and most police departments. In addition, residents can “take back” from home, by ordering a mail-back envelope to be delivered to their home or picking up at additional locations. includes a list of locations and more about the mail-back option.

Drug overdose remains the leading cause of accidental death in Marin. With its local partners, RxSafe Marin works to limit the public health risk posed by prescription medications by promoting safe prescribing by clinicians and increasing opportunities for safe disposal of unused and unwanted medications. Partly because of RxSafe Marin’s successes since it started in 2014, prescriptions are not written as freely and liberally as they used to be thanks to the cooperation of medical health professionals.

“More medications are being disposed of safely in Marin every year,” said County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis. “At the same time, fewer opioids are being prescribed. With less coming in to the community, and more being removed, there’s a lot less available for misuse and abuse.”

Organized drug take-back efforts and the safe disposal of medications have been fruitful. In 2019, 14,673 pounds of unneeded drugs were collected in Marin, up from 11,128 in 2018 and 8,300 in 2017. Every year since 2015, Marin has seen more drugs being returned and properly discarded.

In California, 52,808 pounds were dropped off at 181 collection sites at the October event in 2020. Nationally, nearly a million pounds of unused, expired, and unwanted medications were dropped off across the country, the largest amount ever collected in the program’s ten years.  Since September 2010, nearly 13.7 pounds of drugs have been disposed of nationally through the take-back programs.

Drug take-back locations are open during the facility’s regular hours of operation. The service is provided free and anonymously. Medications are accepted in any dosage form in their original container or a sealed bag.  Note that drop-off locations cannot accept herbal remedies, vitamins, supplements, cosmetics, other personal care products, medical devices, batteries, mercury-containing thermometers, sharps, and illicit drugs.

For more information and to find year-round drug drop-off locations, visit


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website