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National Drug Take Back Day partners hope to take 60,000 pounds of drugs off the streets

Posted at 5:28 PM, Oct 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-27 18:44:10-04

Saturday is National Drug Take Back day, when 300 law enforcement agencies are helping to collect drugs across Wisconsin. Every agency is asking the public to bring in any old or unused medication for proper disposal.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice anticipates taking back nearly 60,000 pounds of drugs throughout the state. Danielle Long, the department's Opioid Initiatives Adviser, says recent data show more than 70% of drug addicts kick-start their habit through pills from family members or friends. 

"No one knows what to do with them. Unfortunately, people who have family members who pass and discover large amounts of medicines in their homes. This is a great way to come down and take care of it," says Long. 

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday people walked up or drove up to the drop off point to give away their medications. Margaret Hintz walks up with a large bag of medication that was prescribed to her late husband. She says she didn't want to flush it down the toilet or throw it in the trash.  

"That puts it out there for others, I think. These guys get rid of it completely," says Hintz.  

In 2016 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds opioids accounted for more than 68,000 deaths nationwide. In Milwaukee County more than 200 people died from opioids in 2015. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel says more than 80% of heroin users first became addicted to prescription painkillers. 

"You won't know it did until it did. So, you need to take it seriously. People should talk to their kids," says Schimel. 

Schimel says another issue families need to be mindful of is easily accessible pills. Recently a one-year-old child died from an opioid overdose.  

"You have to store them safely and securely in your home. We're losing far more people to prescription painkillers than we do to guns," says Schimel.  

While the drugs are being dropped off, high school senior Neil Dogra is giving pamphlets on opioid awareness in return.

"I was actually shocked that I was so oblivious to this pervasive topic," says Dogra,"One of the aspects I felt was lacking from our program was opioid awareness to the general public." 

While the national drug take-back day is over, authorities say anyone can still turn in unwanted or unused medications.