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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Drug Take Back Day successfully recovers excess medications in Wisconsin

Wisconsinites were asked to drop off their prescription medications at designated drop boxes this past Saturday to prevent drug misuse and water contamination.

Attorney General Josh Kaul encouraged Wisconsinites to dispose of unwanted and unused medications through over 135 events across the state Saturday as part of National Drug Take Back Day.

Many restricted substances, including medical narcotics, are regularly prescribed to the public. If left in homes, these unused or expired medicines pose a threat of being accidentally ingested, stolen, misused or abused. 

Drug Take Back Day offered the public a convenient opportunity to dispose of medications in a secure way while also educating the community about the importance of proper storage and disposal in preventing drug abuse.

“Wisconsinites who participate in Drug Take Back Day are contributing to the fight against the opioid epidemic,” Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement last week. “By bringing your unused or unwanted medications to a Drug Take Back Day collection site, you can ensure that those medications are safely and responsibly disposed of.”

The event accepted prescription over-the-counter medications and e-cigarette devices, but did not take illicit substances or hazardous objects such as needles, aerosols or poisons. Collected drugs will be shipped off to a secure facility and incinerated.

Medications cannot be thrown out or flushed down the drain because water reclamation facilities are not designed to handle them. Prescription drug contamination is not a major problem in Wisconsin’s drinking water sources, but trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have been found in lakes and rivers around the world.

Still, State Senator Melissa Agard (D-Madison) warned Wisconsinites against flushing their unused or expired drugs in a statement last week.

“Flushing or pouring medications down the drain is not safe for our water supply,” Agard said. “Water contamination is a serious issue, and it’s our responsibility to ensure dangerous chemicals do not get into our groundwater, water sources or harm our environment.”

Drug take-back efforts in Wisconsin have been particularly successful over the past two years. The state’s last Drug Take Back Day in October 2021 retrieved a total of 57,377 pounds of unwanted medications, making it the largest drug reclamation event in the country for the second year in a row. 

“By safely disposing of tens of thousands of pounds of unused and unwanted medications, Wisconsinites have ensured that those medications won’t be diverted for misuse,” Kaul said after last year’s event.

The next Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for October 2022. In the meantime, prescription drugs can be deposited in permanent drug drop boxes situated around the state at law enforcement agencies, hospitals, pharmacies and health clinics. 

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Alexander Tan

Alex Tan is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal specializing in state politics coverage. Follow him on Twitter at @dxvilsavocado.

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