Law enforcement agents spent much of the day Monday weighing and sorting old and unused medicines collected across Wisconsin over the weekend as part of a drug take back day.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice oversees two drug take back days each year.
Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson said the events encourage Wisconsinites to not keep old or unused prescriptions in drawers or medicine cabinets where they can be easily stolen.
He said opiate painkillers continue to be very commonly-abused drugs.
Severson added many opiate abusers move on to heroin.
“The majority of people who are addicted to opiates started with abusing prescription drugs,” Severson said. “The more we can do to limit the availability of prescription drugs, the greater impact we’ll have on preventing new abusers.”
The Wisconsin DOJ’s first drug take back event, in May 2015, netted 39,783 pounds of drugs.
The April 2017 haul was the largest on record with 66,830 pounds of prescriptions collected.
This year, law enforcement agencies around the state collected and turned in 61,615 pounds.
Danielle Long, the DOJ’s Drug Take Back Coordinator, said Wisconsin has for the last several years been number one in the country in drugs collected - per capita - through take back events.
“I don’t think it’s because we have more drugs,” Long said. “It’s because we’re doing a good job getting the word out.”
The drugs are dropped off at collection boxes around Wisconsin. Many are located at law enforcement agencies.
The prescriptions collected, which are transported in cardboard boxes, are eventually hauled to a location in Waukesha County where they’re weighed and sorted onto pallets.
Officials then load the drugs into semi-trailers and drive them to Indiana, where they're burned in an incinerator.