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Drug Take Back Day yields over 1,500 pounds in Marathon County

Melissa Dotter
Drug Take Back Day
Melissa Dotter

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) - The National Drug Take Back was held this past Saturday. Some Wisconsin counties collected a lot of old and unneeded pills.

Melissa Dotter is Marathon County’s Drug Free Communities Program Coordinator. She says both Saturday’s local totals and the amount of medications turned in over the past six months were very high. “Local law enforcement turned over actually over fifteen hundred pounds of medications (from Saturday) and we neared one ton of medications collected over the last six months, which is amazing.”

It’s even more amazing when you consider that’s just the weight of the pills. The pill bottles cannot be turned in, and are disposed of or recycled separately.

Dotter says in earlier collections, local officials had to do a lot of work with the collected medicines before they could turn them over to federal officials. She says that’s no longer necessary, which helps local counties save effort and money. “Previously, we’d have to go through and separate all of the controlled substances, those that are frequently abused such as prescription painkillers, and the non-controlled like vitamins and over-the-counter medications and so on. It’s actually helped us a lot that they’re able to take all that we have collected.”

Federal government officials collect the pills and take them for incineration, which keeps them out of the hands of people that may abuse them and it keeps the chemical compounds out of water supplies, landfills and wastewater treatment plants.

Dotter says so far, Wisconsin officials have discussed but not passed a proposal that would allow people to turn in illegal drugs anonymously through the Drug Take Back program. So far, she’s not aware of any illegal drugs being turned in at collection boxes.

For Marathon County, the collection boxes are at police stations in Wausau, Rothschild, Kronenwetter, Everest Metro in Weston, and the Colby-Abbotsford department. Dotter says Rothschild is usually the busiest one.

(The interview with Melissa Dotter can be heard in our Newsmaker Interview podcast, here.)