GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, 6.5 million Americans abuse prescription drugs every year.
It’s being termed an epidemic that reaches every corner of the nation, including Wisconsin.
In an effort to keep prescription drugs out of the abusers hands, Bellin Health and the Green Bay Police Department teamed up Thursday afternoon for a medication drop-off event.
“We really invite people in the community to go through their cabinets, get their prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs and dispose of them properly,” said Kelly McBride Moore, Bellin Health communication specialist.
Whether it’s pill by pill or bottle by bottle, Green Bay Community Officer Scott Schuetze said every little bit counts in the fight against opiate abuse.
“I guess anything we can do,” said Schuetze.
It’s an epidemic the 26 year police veteran knows all too well.
“Back when I started it was marijuana and crack cocaine and now it is heading the other way,” said Schuetze.
But Schuetze said time has certainly changed and more people are turning to prescription drugs.
“Almost no one starts of by injecting themselves with heroin. Most people start off with obtaining legal prescription drugs,” said Representative John Nygren, (R) Marinette.
That is the main reason Schuetze continues to help out at medication drop-off events. It’s also why Nyrgren continues to push for more support on a statewide level.
“The more people are aware of the challenges we face, the better we are as a state,” said Nygren.
Nygren said one of the biggest challenges for government officials is that every agency has their own way of fighting opiate abuse.
“There has not been one single organization that has been working as an overseer or a coordinator of these different events,” said Nygren.
But Nygren is hopeful Governor Scott Walker’s “Task Force on Opioid Abuse” will help everyone join forces for that one common goal.
“Take unwanted medication off the street,” said Nygren.
McBride Moore said they collected hundreds of pounds of unwanted medication during the 4-hour event Thursday.