Over 70% of people who misuse prescription painkillers get them from people they know.
Alarmed? You should be.
That’s why the Eau Claire-City County Health Department and community partner agencies urge locals to safely dispose of their old, unused medications at any number of drug take-back locations in the Chippewa Valley.
“Unused medicines that are left in your cabinet have the potential to fall into the hands of those who shouldn’t be using them,” said Sarah Dillivan-Pospisil, public health specialist. “This could lead to a drug overdose or accidental poisoning, and proper disposal is one easy way to reduce misuse of prescription medications.”
Here are a few tips for safely preventing drug misuse:
1. SAFELY DISPOSE OF UNUSED OR OUTDATED PRESCRIPTIONS.
Proper drug disposal is one way to reduce misuse of prescription medication, officials say.
Twice a year, the Prescription Drug Take-Back event is hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration and is coordinated locally by the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office, Altoona Police Department, Marshfield Clinic Health System, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, and the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention coalition.
The annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is on Saturday, Oct. 23 – a great opportunity to collect all of your unused medications and safely dispose of them.
Last April, Wisconsin collected 59,116 pounds of medicine – the second largest drug take-back in the country. While that might seem alarming, it means that 59,116 pounds of medication was safely disposed of and avoided misuse.
This year, the Drug Take-Back Day will take place from 10am-2pm at the Altoona Police Department (1904 Spooner Ave.) and Marshfield Medical Center - Eau Claire (2116 Craig Road, curbside pickup at Entrance B).
If you are unable to attend the Take-Back event on Saturday, October 23, you still can dispose of your medications. And the Eau Claire City-County Health Department ensures that dropping off unused medications is simple, easy, and effective at preventing misuse through drug take-back locations available year round.
Disposing of medications helps with more than preventing prescription misuse; it is also environmentally friendly, as it prevents folks from tossing their medications in the garbage (which ends up in a landfill) or down the toilet (which will likely cause you some plumbing issues in the future – and probably isn’t safe).
You just walk in, drop off your medications, and then you leave. There's no questions; it's free and anonymous.
Eau Claire City-County Health Department
A complete list of take-back locations is available on the Eau Claire City-County’s website (here) under “Prescription Drug Misuse and Safe Medication Disposal.”
“You just walk in, drop off your medications, and then you leave,” Dillivan-Pospisil said. “There’s no questions; it’s free and anonymous.”
Since their installation, the health department reported over 33,800 pounds of medications, with an average of 3,000 pounds each year. In 2019, they collected the largest amount of medication yet, with almost 6,000 pounds of medication total.
Be careful to read what each location accepts, as some locations do not accept liquid medications – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drop them off! Simply find a location closest to you that accepts liquid medicines.
2. EDUCATE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Some of the take-back locations were first installed in 2012, but Dillivan-Popisil says there’s still education that is needed on where the dropboxes are located and how to use them. A series of videos launched by the Eau Claire City-County Health Department shows just how easy it can be to get rid of old meds – and how important it is to support a healthy, happy community. These videos are available in English, Spanish, and Hmong. One way to ensure the safety of your family and friends is to share information on how to prevent drug misuse, such as through these accessible videos, found online at GetInvolvedASAP.org under the "Prescription Drug Use & Safe Medication Disposal" tab.
3. LOCK UP YOUR MEDICATIONS.
Use a lockbox, lockbag, or locked drawer and hide the key. This will prevent others from stealing or misusing prescription medications that aren’t theirs. It will also prevent young children or pets from accidentally finding medications and swallowing them.
For more information on the drug take-back locations or about National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, check out the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention’s website at GetInvolvedASAP.org.