Wisconsin collects 30 tons of meds during Drug Take Back Day

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    Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced that the 2019 Drug Take Back Day, held on October 26, resulted in the collection of over 30 tons of unused medications. The staggering figure represents the second largest amount of medications collected in any state during the 18th annual Take Back Day.

    More than 4,800 law enforcement agencies participated in the Drug Take Back Day across the country, including 277 in Wisconsin. Unused meds were contained in 333 Wisconsin collection sites. Across the United States and its territories, 441.5 tons of prescription medications were collected.

    “This successful Drug Take Back collection reflects the commitment of people across the state to fighting substance abuse,” Kaul said in a statement. “Thanks to the many Wisconsinites who are helping to prevent unused and unwanted medications from being diverted.” Drugs collected during the campaign were sent to Covanta Energy Corporation in Indianapolis, where they were incinerated.

    Drug disposal bins are a major part of the continued fight against prescription pill pollution. In Wisconsin, 476 disposal boxes have been permanently installed and are accessible to the public. Promoting the use of the boxes was part of  the Oct. 23 Imagine A Day Without Water campaign. More disposal boxes were installed in Milwaukee County during the lead-up to Drug Take Back Day.

    The opioid crisis isn’t just costly in its perpetuation of drug abuse disorders and overdoses. Various prescription drugs from pain killers to antidepressants have been detected in fish and other aquatic life around the world. While investigations are ongoing as to how this contamination actually occurred, flushing unused medicine down the toilet or sink is a contributing factor. Campaigns like Drug Take Back Day capture large amounts of medications that would otherwise end up in the water.

    Isiah Holmes
    Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, and other outlets.