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Prescription Drug Drop Boxes

Prescription Drug Drop Box

Unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs have been determined to present substantial risks to our community by either falling into the wrong hands, or by damaging our environment through improper disposal. It is this awareness that has resulted in the San Diego County Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors working together to provide a safe alternative method to dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals.

The Problem

Studies have shown that residential supplies of pharmaceutical controlled substances - those found in our home medicine cabinets - have become the supply of choice for young people and criminals. Many abusers, a high percentage of which are teens, are known to have obtained their controlled substances from the homes of family and friends. In addition, research has shown that our environment has been threatened by medications being flushed down toilets. Most controlled substances are created synthetically, and are not removed through normal water-treatment processes. This can result in the discharge of these substances into the environment and into our ground water supplies.

The Solution

The Sheriff’s Department and the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force have participated in prescription drug “take-back” days in which the public could turn in unwanted medication at specified sites. With the most recent event collecting over 2,500 pounds of controlled substances, the need for safe collection of these substances became even more apparent.

The Sheriff’s Department is pleased to announce the installation of secure collection drop-boxes at several Sheriff’s facilities. Community members are now welcome to come to any of the facilities listed below where unwanted medications may be turned in anonymously. Click the name of any station to get more information about the station and its location.

Most drop-off sites are only available weekdays between 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

You may wish to call ahead to confirm available hours at your intended site.

Medications in standard containers may be deposited in those containers. Loose medication can be put into plastic bags available at the collection box and then deposited. Please ensure any liquid medication is enclosed in secure containers before depositing.

Sharps or needles are only accepted at the North Coastal Station and Imperial Beach Substation. For a list of other sharps disposal boxes in the county, call the County Household Hazardous Waste Hotline at (877) 713-2784. State law prohibits the disposal of sharps, including needles, syringes and lancets in regular trash.

Once collected, evidence staff will ensure the medication and sharps are disposed of according to State and Federal laws.

Portable Drug Drop Box


If your community or organization is partnering with the Sheriff’s Department for a community event, you may request we bring a portable drop box to the event for the secure collection of unwanted prescription drugs. The box weighs about 40 pounds, and can be set up on a table at your event. Contact your local station for more information.