STATE OF AFFAIRS: Wisconsin Celebrates Record-Breaking Drug Take-Back Day
MADISON, Wisc. (May 26, 2016) – Wisconsin is celebrating the collection of 62,618 pounds of prescription drugs this morning, breaking a record for the state’s take-back program. That’s over a 40% increase from the October take-back, which is indicative of both a highly successful prevention program, and the problem of more prescription drugs on the streets. “Safe disposal of prescription medications, whether on drug take-back day or at a permanent drug disposal drop box, prevents these potentially dangerous drugs from falling into the wrong hands where they may be used,” says attorney General Brad Schimel. “I am incredibly appreciative of companies like Schneider National Trucking and Covanta Energy Corporation for donating their services and to all our law enforcement partners across Wisconsin for organizing and providing the proper means for safe drug disposal.” Wisconsin law enforcement agencies hosted 128 take-back events last month, and provided 256 permanent drug disposal drop boxes. An important task, as 70% of initial painkiller use starts when drugs are obtained improperly from family members or friends. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the collection is the largest amount of drugs ever collected by any state. In May of last year, the state collected nearly 40,000 pounds then around 45,000 pounds in October. But no one expected April’s takeback to have such a large increase in the number of unwanted drugs taken off the streets. The drugs were secured in Schneider Trucking Company trailers, taken to Covanta and incarcerated. A new bill has been introduced in reducing prescription drug costs in the state, which could include prescription pain killers, but appears to be aimed at improving quality of life of those in need of some prescriptions to survive. The proposed legislation, introduced by Representative Debra Kolste (D-Janesville), would require the Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner to decide which drugs are overpriced and strategize reducing the costs. Prescription drug costs have risen over 10% the last year nationwide. The bill would be introduced the beginning of 2017. The number of counties offering Comprehensive Community Services has doubled after the state’s investment. Recovery, community-based treatment for behavioral health is now available to 95% of Wisconsin residents. The program is part of Governor Scott Walker’s nearly $30 million investment, which now has 63 participating counties, up from 31. “CCS is built around the belief that people can get better, and a comprehensive approach is key,” says DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades. “Together, with our county and tribal partners, we have established this program in urban and rural areas, giving more people access to a pathway to recovery. The expansion of this program assures access to mental health and substance use treatment no matter where an individual lives.” As of March 31, 3,535 individuals were enrolled in CCS. May is Mental Health Month, and the Wisconsin Department of Human Services is encouraging everyone in the state to take the time to learn about mental illness. Still, Wisconsin joins several other states in the Centers for Disease Control ranking of average with 73 prescriptions per 100 people. In 2014, 42,000 teenagers (9.8% of all teenagers in the state) reported using illicit drugs within the past month of being surveyed. 117,000 teens (17.5%) reported binge alcohol use. 22,000 adolescents reported nonmedical use of pain relievers. 55,000 teens had at least one major depressive episode. Of those, only about 16,000 received treatment. 170,000 adults in Wisconsin had serious thoughts of suicide. 183,000 reported a serious mental illness in the state. 376,000 were dependent on or used alcohol. 377,000 reported heavy alcohol use. Only 21,000 actually received treatment. 126,000 were dependent on or used illicit drugs, while only around 15,000 received treatment.