Each year on a Saturday in April and a Saturday in October, the citizens of the United States get rid of a few hundred tons of unnecessary weight. Sounds like a great weight loss plan, right? Well, it’s not pounds of body weight that are shed; it’s pounds of unused medications.
Way back in 2010, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) kicked off their Drug Take-Back Campaign. During this first Drug Take-Back event, Americans cleaned out more than 121 tons of unused and expired medications from their homes. It was such an overwhelming success that the event is now held twice a year.
All 50 states participate and the amount of drugs collected is record setting with each event that takes place. In April 2016, over 447 tons of drugs were collected. Wisconsin was third in the amount collected with a total of 31 tons. Looking at just Sheboygan County, 357.5 pounds of drugs were collected in October 2016 during the Medication Take Back Day.
Perhaps you have been given a prescription for a medication that you are no longer taking and it’s just sitting there in your medicine cabinet. Maybe you bought a cough medicine for your child and only used it a couple of times and now it’s expired. Maybe you’re cleaning out a home of a loved one who has passed away and you’re not sure what to do with their medications.
You cannot bring them back to the pharmacy. Most pharmacies cannot accept medications once they have left the pharmacies (some pharmacies have drug drop boxes, so check with your pharmacy to see if they do). You cannot flush them down the toilet or dump them down the drain. This is harmful to the environment. You cannot throw them into your regular trash can. This can also be harmful to the environment and may allow the medications can end up in the wrong hands.
So, what can you do?
As I mentioned already, there are two National Take Back Medication Days. Sheboygan County does participate. The next one is April 29 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. There are five sites around the county that will be ready to take your unused medications. You don’t even have to get out of your car! Liquid medications need to be in bottles and then placed in plastic bags. To protect your privacy, please cross out any identifying information.
Take Back Medication Day Sites » Plymouth, Generations » Sheboygan, St. Nicholas Hospital » Random Lake, Fire Department » Oostburg, Municipal Building » Howards Grove, Village Hall In addition, Sheboygan County has five permanent drop box locations.
» Elkhart Lake Police Department » Kohler Police Department » Plymouth Police Department » Sheboygan Police Department » Sheboygan Falls Police Department If you have questions about the Take Back Medication Day or the permanent drop boxes, please contact Libby Holte at 920-459-3035.
Christa Wilson is a 4th year student pharmacist on rotation with Sheboygan County Health and Human Services.