Prescription opioid pills and a syringe for illegal opioids

Opioids are a class of drugs that mimic the natural substances found in the opium poppy plant. Opioids work in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including pain relief. Opioids include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and methadone. Not all painkillers are opioids, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.


The United States is facing an epidemic. Thousands of people are affected by opioid misuse every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999 and so have sales of these prescription drugs. The devastating impact of substance misuse and overdose places a tremendous burden on our families, communities and healthcare systems. It is important to keep leftover medications out of the hands of potential abusers, as well as children and pets, who are vulnerable to accidental poisonings.

People also are known to improperly dispose of expired and unused prescriptions and medications by flushing them down the sink or toilet when no longer needed. This practice can harm the beneficial bacteria that break down waste in septic systems and wastewater treatment plants. Also, municipal wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to remove all the ingredients from the medications in the treatment process. Untreated or partially treated medications are then released into nearby waterways and can impact groundwater. 

State Actions

Missouri State Park Rangers train for opioid response

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has joined with all Missouri state agencies to help fight against the opioid crisis facing Missourians and the nation. We encourage you to learn more about how you can better protect yourself and your loved ones from opioid abuse, addiction and overdose. Visit Missouri's Time2Act opioid website to find additional resources available to help stop the opioid crisis. 

Missouri State Park Ranger Training

Missouri State Park Rangers are trained and prepared to assist in the event of a suspected opioid overdose. All of our Missouri State Park Rangers have completed training sessions on how to properly administer Naloxone (Narcan) medication and carry it in their first aid kits.

Disposal Information

The department is dedicated to providing information about the proper disposal of unused or expired pharmaceuticals to protect public health and our natural resources.

National Actions

Drug Take Back Programs

Prescription drug take back programs are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Administration. They are offered to residents by local law enforcement to provide a safe and convenient method for the public to properly dispose of unused or unwanted medications free of charge, as funding is available. Contact your local law enforcement to obtain additional information and check availability.