State, police team up for Drug Take Back Day

70 percent of people abusing prescription painkillers get them from friends and family, the state says

Prescription drug collection
Prescription drugs stored at the Green Bay Police Dept. on Oct. 21, 2016, waiting to be destroyed (Photo: Green Bay Police Dept.)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – Across the country, police departments are teaming up to tackle prescription drug abuse with a Drug Take-Back Day.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel says prescription drug abuse is doing tremendous harm in the state. That’s why he’s teaming up with local police departments, encouraging people to drop off old or unused prescription drugs.

Wisconsin has seen success in getting unwanted medicine away from communities with a Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday, Oct. 22.

“In April of this year we made it three semi-trucks full — over 64,000 pounds,” Schimel said. “Made us number three in the country.”

But the state doesn’t want to stop there. Wisconsin says 70 percent of people abusing prescription painkillers get them from friends and family.

Mooring Addiction Program’s Cristina Kehl in Appleton says the abuse is frightening and some parents don’t realize it’s happening.

“If parents knew the reality of the situation, that kids are literally pouring pill bottles into buckets and taking them at parties, maybe that would help them be aware of the severity of the situation.”

Mooring Programs says addiction to prescription drugs can be a gateway to other drugs. In Wisconsin, about 80 percent of heroin addicts started with prescription medicine.

“It just escalates,” Kehl says, “because eventually that’s not enough, because their tolerance builds and they need more. Then it’s too expensive to get so they turn to something cheaper on the streets.”

Schimel hopes Wisconsinites will get rid of unused prescription drugs, keeping them out of landfills, out of water supplies and out of the wrong hands.

“When you’re done, don’t save them. Don’t think, ‘Someday I might need them for something else.’ Get rid of them,” he urged.

Police want people to know they will take any and all drugs, even if they’re illegal, at the Drug Take-Back events on Saturday.