Drug Collection Underscores Problem of Abuse
Muskego held its first drug recycling program, and police officials as well as volunteers were surprised at the response, but glad that people were taking charge of their medicine cabinets.
The weekly police blotter is often home to at least one account of possession of prescription medications or drugged driving. And police officials have often said the culprit isn't a street corner, but your own medicine cabinet.
As car after car came through the Muskego Police Department garage on Saturday during its drug collection day, part of a county-wide effort to clean out old and unused medications, it was clear that oxycodone - a prescription painkiller that often 'springboards' users to heroin - is everywhere.
"It's the most often prescribed painkiller," said pharmacist and volunteer Justin Konkol. "The brand name is Percoset, and it's everywhere."
After people finish needing the painkiller (or any prescription medications for that matter), they generally don't know what to do with it, so it's left in the medicine cabinet. Most people then become unwitting suppliers of the drug to addicts who look through friends and family's things while visiting the home, said Lt. Dave Constantineau with MPD.
Most of the hundreds of residents who handed over bags of old medications were grateful to have a place to safely get rid of it.
"We used to be told to flush it down the toilet, and that was no good, and I don't think it should just go in the garbage," said Jim from Muskego.
Constantineau confirmed that the vanload of medications would go to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) where it is safely incinerated.
The efforts were part of Waukesha County's Drug Free Communities Coalition (WCDFC) collection day, and Muskego was part of seven drop-off sites in the county. Constantineau credited Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti and Police Chief Paul Geiszler for teaming up to get Muskego to become a drop-off point, and he said they will likely be back again next year.
Along with prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, inhalers, needles and other sharps, as well as thermometers were collected and sorted by a dozen volunteers.
Here are just a few facts from the WCDFC:
- 70 percent of teens who abuse prescription medication get it from their family and friends
- Prescription meds are involved in 70 percent of the overdose deaths in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha and Washington Counties
- In the last 3 drug collections, 6,752 households have dropped off 21,258 pounds of medications
- It cost $13,000 last year to hold the event and dispose of the drugs