43,000 lbs. of prescription drugs collected during statewide tak - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

43,000 lbs. of prescription drugs collected during statewide take back

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WAUKESHA COUNTY (WKOW) – Trucks from around Wisconsin brought boxes of unused prescriptions, collected during Saturday's state-wide drug take back event, to a drop off site in Waukesha County on Monday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice, which organized the drug take back, said a total of 43-thousand pounds of prescription drugs were collected by 180 different law enforcement agencies around Wisconsin.

“It's good and bad,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “It's bad there's so much unused medication out there but it's good that it's coming here.”

Schimel said drugs delivered and inventoried in Waukesha County will now be transported to an incinerator, in Indiana, where they will be destroyed.

Schimel said those with prescriptions need to be aware of the dangers of disposing of them at home.

“If you flush them down the toilet or throw them in the garbage, then they can end up in our water table and we end up drinking them. That's not good for anybody,” Schimel said.

Ryan Shogren, Special Agent in Charge with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, said leaving unused prescriptions in your medicine drawer or cabinet also means those who shouldn't be using them can access them.

Shogren said kids are particularly vulnerable to getting hooked.

“Being in a medicine cabinet, these are much more accessible than other drugs,” Shogren said. “Once they start taking them, once they're addicted, then that's when they make the move into heroin and other opiates.”

“They're under the impression that because these are prescribed by a doctor, that they're not dangerous or they're not addictive,” Schimel said of young people. “The opposite is certainly true.”

Schimel said 70 percent of heroin abusers started with prescription opiates. He said overdose deaths in Wisconsin have quadrupled since the year 2000.

“Local law enforcement agencies are tried of going to overdose scenes,” Schimel said. “They're tired of investigating crimes they're linking to these drugs.”

“This is the best way we know how to work towards ending this,” he said, “by getting out in front and getting these drugs out of the hands of people who are going to abuse them.”

Schimel's office rolled out a statewide campaign, dubbed “Dose of Reality,” at a news conference last month. The goal of the campaign, he said, was to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and encourage those with unused medicines to turn them in at Saturday's drug take back.

A spokesperson for the DOJ said the Dose of Reality campaign is scheduled to run for a full year.

Schimel said the DOJ will organize another drug take back day in the spring.

But Schimel said you don't have to wait to turn in unused prescriptions. He said law enforcement agencies around Wisconsin collect them throughout the year. 

For a full list of DOJ-approved drop off sites, click here.

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