Drugs (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Drugs (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Wisconsin residents will have another opportunity this coming Saturday to clean out their medicine cabinets. It’s time for another drug take-back day, a biannual effort to help the public dispose of unwanted, expired, and unused medications.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says Wisconsin has consistently seen a strong response each time it participates in the event, with about 25 tons of drugs dropped off at collection sites statewide during the last take-back day in April. Van Hollen says, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, “people have the opportunity to take these unused prescription drugs and return them to 170 different drop-off sites that we have across the state, so they can be disposed of in a way that obviously won’t harm our children and won’t harm our environment.”

The program was launched with two goals in mind: keep drugs from being disposed of in ways that could contaminate the environment and to reduce the risk of prescription opiates being abused. Van Hollen says those old medications can serve as a gateway drug for more dangerous forms of substance abuse, such as heroin. He says studies have shown that about two-third of the prescription drugs abused in the U.S. were legally prescribed at one point in time.

Most of the drugs collected through the program are incinerated.

Wisconsin has joined several states in participating in the take-back events over the past several years, although recent changes in federal rules could complicate efforts down the road. A federal rule approved earlier this year allows drop-off boxes to be placed in more locations, although there are questions about how the collection and disposal will be funded. Van Hollen says he’s not concerned about the future of the program though and he’s hoping the expansion of opportunities to dispose of drugs properly will encourage more people to get rid of them quickly. He says it should be much easier for people than waiting several months for a special event.

You can find local drop-off sited by going to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s website.

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