Prescription drug abuse is taking someone else’s prescription medication, taking a prescription medication in a way other than prescribed, such as breaking or crushing a pill and snorting the powder, or taking a prescription medication to get high. Some common types of medications that are misused and abused are opioids, depressants, and stimulants. Abusing any prescription drug can result in addiction and serious health problems including death.


This is a growing problem for both teenagers and older adults. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teens who abuse prescription drugs are two times as likely to use alcohol, five times more likely to use marijuana, and 12-20 times more likely to use illegal street drugs than teens who do not abuse prescription drugs. Older adults are more likely to abuse prescription drugs because they are prescribed multiple drugs and for long periods of time, some experience cognitive decline resulting in drug abuse, and it saves them money to take someone else medications.

Fortunately, National Take Back Day, a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs, addresses this vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched its prescription drug take back program when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—posed potential safety and health hazards.

In October 2017, Take Back Day had over 4,200 local and tribal law enforcement partners that collected a record setting 912,305 pounds (456 tons) of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal at more than 5,300 collection sites nationwide. This is almost 6 tons more than what was collected at the April 2017 Take Back Day event.

This year, National Take Back Day will take place on April, 28th, 2018. The two permanent medication drop boxes in Burnett County are located at the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office and St. Croix Tribal Police Department. These drop boxes are a safe, effective, and environmentally friendly way to dispose of unwanted or expired, over the counter, and other unused medications.

Items that ARE accepted:

  • Prescription medications
  • Controlled and non-controlled medications
  • Over the counter medications
  • Medication samples
  • Vitamins  

Items that ARE NOT accepted:

  • Needles
  • IV bags
  • Aerosol cans
  • Business waste
  • Bloody/infectious waste
  • Personal care products
  • Empty containers
  • Liquid medications.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357). It is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Submitted by: Tessa Anderson, Drug Court Coordinator

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