Prescription drug collection helps take unused drugs out of homes

70 percent of those addicted to prescription drugs get them from family and friends

According to a 2015 youth risk behavior survey by La Crosse County, 14 percent of youth have used a prescription drug without a doctor’s permission.

To combat the trend, a national drug take-back day is hoping to get those drugs out of home.

As a result of Saturday’s National Drug Take Back Day, the La Crosse Police Department collected prescription drugs from six police departments Monday, hoping to stop potential addicts from ever beginning drugs.

With over 70 percent of youth and adults who abuse prescription drugs getting them from family or friends, it’s a problem that experts say needs attention.

“Unfortunately it’s an easily accessible item,” said Rita Von Haden from Coulee Council on Addictions. “What kids don’t really focus on is the fact that it’s coming from a doctor, so they think, what’s so bad about it?”

Once someone becomes addicted to prescription drugs, Von Haden said the addicted can quickly turn to more potent drugs.

“It starts in one sense, and travels to more once when they can’t get what they’re looking for,” said Von Haden.

Von Haden said that’s why drug take-back days are so important.

“If it’s not in our cabinets, not there for someone to be able to get, then we lessen the accessibility, decrease the risk of it being able to come directly from my home,” said Von Haden.

As part of their countywide collection from various police departments Monday, La Crosse police collected around 760 pounds of prescription and non-prescription drugs over a six-month period. That was 250 pounds more than the last time it was done.

“That’s a significant amount of weight. Seven hundred sixty pounds of pharmaceuticals and non-pharmaceuticals all being disposed of safety instead of being thrown into the garbage, going into the landfill, getting flushed down the toilet,” said Capt. Jason Melby of the La Crosse Police Department.

Von Haden believes there’s often a misconception with the collection.

“(They believe if they) take it to a police department, (they) could get in trouble for it, and we don’t want them to think that way,” said Von Haden. “We want them to understand that this is a way to get it out so we can help keep our city safer.”
The drop box locations include police departments from La Crosse, Onalaska, West Salem, Holmen, Campbell, and Bangor.

Gundersen Health System also has three drop off locations inside their facility.
Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin is also holding a round-table discussion on the opioid and heroin epidemic tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. at the Coulee Council on Addictions.