The Wisconsin Department of Justice is hoping that Oct. 28 will offer a Dose of Reality to residents throughout the state.
In an effort to prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers and other pharmaceuticals, Saturday will be Drug Take-Back Day. At this time, residents are encouraged to take unused medications—prescription and over-the-counter—to Drug Take-Back Day locations, which include pharmacies, senior citizens’ centers and police and sheriff’s departments.
Throughout the state there are about 350 medication drop-off locations. Of these, 134 will host special Drug Take-Back events on Saturday.
In Kenosha, several pharmacies and law enforcement agencies offer year-round drop-off boxes (see information box). While none will be hosting official “events” on Saturday, medications dropped off will be collected and counted for Drug Take-Back Day, according to Rebecca Ballweg, DOJ spokesperson.
Drug Take-Back Day is a collaboration between the DOJ, the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement agencies.
“Prescription opioids are a gateway drug that can lead to opioid abuse,” noted Johnny Koremenos, another DOJ spokesperson. “Four out of five heroin users started using heroin because they were first addicted to prescription opioids.”
Drug Take-Back Day has been taking place twice yearly since spring 2015.
It is a response to what has been declared an epidemic of prescription drug abuse in recent years.
In a press release, Attorney General Brad Schimel said, “More than two-thirds of people who have abused prescription painkillers got them illegally from a friend or family member.”
To prevent opioid abuse, people should take their opioids as prescribed, store them safely and dispose of unused drugs properly,” Koremenos added.
In September, 2015, the DOJ launched DoseofRealitywi.gov, a website dedicated to preventing prescription painkiller abuse in Wisconsin. It contains facts, support resources and details on the drug take-back program.
Koremenos stated that, during the most recent take-back day this spring, 66,830 pounds of prescription medications were collected statewide.
Drugs collected during the twice yearly round-ups are loaded on semi trucks and taken to Covanta Energy in Indianapolis, where they are incinerated at no cost to the state.
Handing medications into an agency or facility equipped to dispose of them properly is critical, notes Guida Brown, executive director of Kenosha’s Hope Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.
“The majority of (prescription narcotics) are stolen from friends and family,” she said.
While the take-back initiative cannot eradicate the problem of opioid drug abuse, it is still an important public service, Brown said. “Even if it only helps people understand how dangerous it is to have those drugs in your cupboard.”