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Van Hollen: Drug Take Back Day important in fight against heroin, other drug abuse


UNDATED (WSAU-WRN) -- Drug Take Back Day is Saturday. It’s an opportunity to solve several problems with one good spring cleaning of the medicine cabinet. First, you keep these drugs from getting into the environment, because wastewater treatment plants can’t remove these compounds from lakes, rivers, and groundwater. Also, getting the drugs out of the house eliminates the possibility that someone will misuse them or get addicted.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says removing prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Oxycodone goes a long way towards preventing future heroin addictions.  “We can take more of these prescription drugs out of people’s medicine cabinets and have less access to our young people, we will have fewer people who are addicted to heroin down the road, so it’s very, very important.”

Van Hollen says preventing that first unnecessary exposure to opiates is vital to keeping people away from heroin.  “It’s horribly important because we have a heroin epidemic. Everyone has known for years now that we’ve had a prescription drug abuse epidemic, but as prescription drug access has fallen off, we’ve had more people become addicted to prescription opiates who are not turning to less-expensive, easier to access, and often purer heroin.”

Department of Justice spokesperson Dana Brueck says there are Drug Take Back collection centers at law enforcement agencies all over the state.  “We have more than 170 law enforcement agencies registered to participate, which means we have about 200 collection sites, so we’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to maintain the volume we’ve collected in years past.”

Wisconsin has participated in the Drug Take Back program for about four years, and Brueck says those little pills add up in a hurry.  “Wisconsin has historically turned out in big numbers to drop off their prescription drugs. Last October, we dropped off more than 19 tons, which is pretty impressive. We were 4th in the nation, so we were right up there with California, Texas, and New York as far as volume of drugs collected.”

The Attorney General and the Department of Justice have been running an educational campaign about heroin and its effects. Brueck says the information is available on their website.  “We really would encourage people to log on to The Fly Effect.com. Check it out. Share it on social media, and make those around them aware of Wisconsin’s heroin problem.”

National Drug Take Back has collection points in every county of every state Saturday. There are several in central Wisconsin.  Find the site nearest to you online, here.