Police departments throughout Waupaca County will participate in this spring’s national Medication Take Back Day.
It is being sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26.
Medication drop-off boxes are available throughout the year at several locations – the Clintonville, New London and Weyauwega police departments and the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department.
The April 26 event will be held at the Clintonville, Manawa, Marion, New London, Waupaca and Weyauwega police departments.
After the national Medication Take Back Day, “law enforcement transports it to the DEA, where it is incinerated,” said Debbie Krogwold, Waupaca County’s recycling coordinator.
Krogwold and area law enforcement agencies urge residents to get unused and expired human and pet prescription and over-the-counter medications out of their homes.
“By turning in your medication, you may prevent a friend or a relative from abusing your medication that was prescribed specifically for you,” said Brian Hoelzel, a detective sergeant in the Waupaca Police Department.
Accepted are expired or unwanted prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, medication samples, pet medications, liquid medications, medicated ointments, inhalers and vitamins.
The medications should be kept in their original containers with the medication name visible. For prescription medications, the person’s name should be removed from the label.
Medications should not be flushed into water systems.
Items not accepted are needles, syringes, lancets, thermometers, IV bags, Nebulizer machines, diabetes test kits, oxygen tanks and personal care products.
Krogwold said law enforcement agencies have to be involved in collecting the medications because “narcotics are in the mix.”
This month’s DEA-sponsored collection is one of two it offers each year.
The other Medication Take Back Day is held in the fall.
Krogwold said an estimated 1,431 pounds were collected in Waupaca County in 2013 at the spring and fall DEA-sponsored collections.
That compared to the esimated 793 pounds that were collected in 2012.
“The reason for the estimate,” Krogwold explained, “is due to the adjustment for packaging weight. We estimate packaging accounts for approximately 36 percent of the weight.”
The breakdown from last year’s spring and fall collections was 268 pounds at the Clintonville Police Department, 32 pounds at the Manawa Police Department, 14 pounds at the Marion Police Department, 373 pounds at the New London Police Department, 432 pounds at the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department, 186 pounds at the Waupaca Police Department and 126 pounds at the Weyauwega Police Department.
“There aren’t any questions asked when they come here. Peel off the part of the label where your name is and just turn it in,” Hoelzel said of the Medication Take Back Day. “It’s easy and it’s anonymous.”
He explained why it is important for people to dispose of medications.
“When friends come over, whether it is young adults or adults, one of the common things people have always done is to look in medicine cabinets,” Hoelzel said.
Many people have pain medications in their medicine cabinets for legitimate reasons, he said.
However, those people do not know if they have a relative or friend who is addicted to a pain medication.
“When someone has an addiction and doctors won’t give them anymore (prescriptions), they have to find ways to find it. One way may be going through a friend’s medicine cabinet and taking some,” Hoelzel said. “We recommend people purchase lock boxes and keep their medications in those locked places in a different place in the home.”
Locked boxes may be purchased at retail stores and online, he said.
When medication is locked, people visiting a home cannot steal pain medications, and youth will also not have access to the prescriptions, Hoelzel said.
Younger generations mistakenly think it is safe to take a medication prescribed to someone else.
“The kids think it’s safe because they see a doctor prescribes them and see Mom and Dad take them,” he said. “We always preach to them that marijuana, heroin and cocaine are bad, but these other (prescribed) drugs are just as bad.”
They may find sources of prescribed medications in the homes of their grandparents.
Youth do not realize prescribed medications have different side effects, he said.
Hoelzel said boys and girls tend to abuse prescription drugs for different reasons. Boys are more likely to use them to get high, while girls tend to use them to stay alert or lose weight, he said.
“Abusing prescription drugs is just as dangerous as abusing illicit drugs,” Hoelzel said. “For prescription drugs, they can have dangerous short and long-term health consequences if used incorrectly.”
Some people may not know there is something in a particular medication they are allergic to until after they take it, he said.
Medications are to be taken as they are prescribed, he said.
“When you are done, if you have prescribed medication left, dispose of it properly,” Hoelzel said.
Those who cannot make the April 26 Medication Take Back Day may drop off medications throughout the year in the vestibule of the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department and also at the Clintonville, New London and Weyauwega police departments.