The drug take back program in Chippewa County recorded steady numbers in the amount of prescription drugs given back to its centers in 2018.
Brian Micolichek, lieutenant of investigations for the Chippewa Falls Police Department, said they’ve continued to average between 1,000 to 1,200 pounds of medications turned in at all the boxes around the county.
The police station in Chippewa Falls received 620 pounds last year, up from 530 pounds of medication in 2017 but down from 893 pounds in 2016 and 949 pounds in 2015.
Micolichek said that some of the decrease could be due to the public becoming more aware to empty their excess pills into a plastic bag to put in the container and not put their medical containers in, which may reduce the weight.
He said there are people who come yearly to get rid of excess medications, but commonly people will be cleaning out when moving or after someone dies and bring in leftover medication then.
“It all depends,” Micolichek said.
The program, which has been in the county since around 2010, accepts a wide amount of prescription medicines, as well as prescriptions themselves.
They don’t take things like needles or thermometers, however.
These types of programs have had a growing population both statewide and nationally, with nationwide collection events twice a year.
The 16th nationwide drug take back day event was held in October for 2018, and was participated in by 4,770 law enforcement agencies nationally, with 287 of those in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin accounted for 66,090 pounds of the over 900,000 pounds collected in that event, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
The two largest goals of collecting drugs are to both get them out of circulation where they could be abused by someone without a prescription, and to remove them without them entering the water system by being flushed or thrown in the garbage.
At the police department, the emptied daily and the drugs will be stored in the station’s evidence room awaiting transport to the State Patrol headquarters.
From there, federal Drug Enforcement Administration officials transport them to a special incinerator in Illinois for disposal. The machine is equipped with a special exhaust system to scrub the smoke of drug residue.
Since they got a 24-hour drop off box in their building in 2011, most other law enforcement agencies have also adopted the practice across the state, Micolichek said.