Drug Take Back Day is April 24
TINA L. SCOTT
Drug Take Back Day is an opportunity for individuals with unused or expired prescription medications to dispose of them. The scheduled date of Saturday, Apr. 24, is part of a statewide initiative to provide a safe, convenient way to responsibly dispose of the medications while educating the public about related issues. Locally, both the Marshfield Clinic Health System – Merrill Center at 1205 O’Day St. in Merrill and the Merrill Police Department at 1004 E. 1st St. in Merrill will participate.
Taking unused or expired medications to a drug disposal box on Drug Take Back Day can help prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs of all kinds. It can also help prevent accidental ingestion or overdoses. And it prevents ground water, river water, and lake water contamination.
“Unused or expired prescription medications should never be flushed or poured down the drain. These potentially dangerous pharmaceutical substances can contribute to contamination of our water supply if not disposed of properly,” the Dose of Reality [Prevent Prescription Painkiller Abuse in Wisconsin] website warns. An Apr. 19 press release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice concurs. “Water reclamation facilities are not designed to remove all of them [medications], and trace amounts of pharmaceuticals are showing up in rivers and lakes,” the release states.
This specific Drug Take Back Day is designed for individual households, not commercial businesses. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications for both humans and pets will be accepted. Solid (non-liquid) medications including pills, caplets, gel caps, suppositories, and tablets can be dumped right into the disposal box or put into a clear sealed bag and dropped into the disposal box. Blister packages with the medications still in those packs are also acceptable, but plastic pill bottles are not allowed. Rather, those plastic bottles and lids can be recycled.
Liquid medications, ointments, creams, vials, inhalers, and non-aerosol sprays will be accepted, but must be in their original packaging and can be dropped directly into the disposal box. Medication patches, vape pens, and e-cigarette devices (with the batteries removed) can also be dropped into the collection box.
This is not the place to dispose of anything bio-hazardous (needles/sharps or anything containing blood or a bodily fluid); illegal drugs; old shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, soap, lotion, sunscreen, etc.; anything in an aerosol can; acids; mercury thermometers; or household hazardous waste (like gas, oil, paint, pesticides, insect repellents, etc.)
Ongoing options for disposal
The Merrill Police Department actually has an “ongoing drop box,” according to Police Chief Corey Bennett. That is available Monday through Friday during business hours for walk-in and then after hours through contacting someone on duty, he said.
“Registering for the [annual] Take Back Day allows us to access the disposal side of the program. So usually the week following the Take Back, we transport our collection to the drop point for proper disposal,” Chief Bennett said. “I believe it all goes for incineration.”
What about illegal drugs?
Illegal drugs and illicit substances (marijuana, methamphetamine, or other drugs) are not a part of this initiative. However, if you need to dispose of those items, call the Merrill Police Department or Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department for instructions on how to do so.
“Illegal drugs are a little different,” Bennett confirms. “The Drug Take Back is specific to prescription and OTC drugs.”
“Street drugs … can’t be lawfully transported or possessed by persons,” he said. So if someone found a small or large amount of illegal drugs, or used to be a user but is now getting clean and wants them gone, for instance. Bennett offers this advice: “I would recommend reporting it so we can pick it up and investigate. Or speaking with an officer directly if there is some anonymity that needs to be maintained while properly disposing of the substance. Every situation is different.”
“They can always call and request to have a confidential conversation with an officer,” Bennett said. “They can privately discuss the situation and maintain confidentiality before we proceed with any plan reached together. … We have some obligations if and when people request to be confidential. … they can remain confidential if they request it.”
“I can’t recommend flushing those items, because it eventually goes into the water,” he said.
“Obviously if we can help get someone in a place for treatment, assuming they are willing and seek out help, we will try to help that along,” Bennett added.