Medication abuse: Being part of the solution

Did you know that one-in-25 youth ages 12 to 17 have abused cough medicine to get high, and one-in-five young adults have abused prescription drugs? According to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, October is National Medication Abuse Awareness Month. During this month, communities are encouraged to come together to take action against the abuse of medication.

The three key ways to take action involve safe medication use, storage and disposal.

Safe Use

When taking medications:

» Take them only as long as they’re needed

» Never take more than you are prescribed

» Always doublecheck the label to be sure you’re taking the correct pill

» Do not crush pills unless you have been instructed to do so by your doctor or pharmacist It’s also important to remember that your prescription was prescribed for you. Don’t share your prescriptions with anyone or take someone else’s prescription.

Safe Storage

Two important rules of thumb for storing medications are to store them out of sight and to lock them up.

» Store them out of sight. This can prevent them from falling into the hands of someone who wants to abuse them and can prevent someone in your house from accidentally taking the wrong medication.

» Lock them up. Storing your prescription painkillers and other medications in a lockbox, safe or locked medicine cabinet is one of the most effective ways to prevent abuse or accidental use.

Safe Disposal

The U.S. makes up just 5 percent of the world’s population — but we use 80 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. With all of that medication coming into our homes, a lot of it goes unused or expires. When medication is no longer needed, it’s important to properly dispose of it. But how?

In Sheboygan County, we have five permanent drug drop boxes located at police departments in our county. You can go to any of the locations below during business hours and dispose of any unused or expired medication, whether those are over-the-counter, liquids or prescriptions:

» Elkhart Lake Police Department

» Kohler Police Department

» Plymouth Police Department

» Sheboygan Police Department

» Sheboygan Falls Police Department We ask that liquids be put in a sealed plastic bag to keep them from spilling. If you would like to dispose of EpiPens, please dispose of them at the Sheboygan Police Department. The drop boxes do not accept sharps (needles or syringes). You can dispose of sharps at the St. Nicholas Hospital Emergency Department. Contaminated sharps must be placed in an approved red, plastic, punctureproof container or a used plastic laundry detergent bottle labeled “sharps” — no larger than 11-by-7 1 ⁄ 2


Besides the permanent boxes, we will be having a county-wide medication take-back event on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following locations:

» Generations in Plymouth

» St. Nicholas Hospital » Random Lake Fire Department

» Municipal Building in Oostburg

» Howards Grove Village Hall You can be a part of the solution in our community. Safely storing, using and disposing of your medications are just a few small ways that you can make a big difference!

Libby Holte, CHES is a Public Health Educator with the Division of Public Health and co-chairs the Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee.