ST. PAUL — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul urge those with unused prescription medications to turn the drugs in to monitored drug takeback sites on Saturday, Oct. 23, for National Drug Take Back Day.

The pair, along with substance abuse experts, said on Friday, Oct. 22, that removing unused medications, and in particular opioid painkillers, from homes reduces the risk of a person or their family from using the drugs and potentially becoming addicted. They also said it prevents contamination of the drinking water supply if people flush the medications down the toilet.

"There is a direct line from the pills in your medicine cabinet to those struggling with heroin and drug addiction," Ellison said. "Four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription painkillers. It's a very important thing to take these medications sitting in your medicine cabinet and take them where they belong, proper disposal units."

Minnesota Department of Health officials reported 427 opioid overdose deaths in 2019, with synthetic opioids contributing to more than half of those deaths. That data is the most recent available. And non-fatal overdoses jumped in 2020, compared to the year prior, according to the department. There were 7,290 admitted to hospitals in the state for nonfatal drug overdoses in 2020 compared to 6,196 in 2019.

"These medications can become such a foundation for people to misuse or abuse. I've heard several times from people in recovery that they stumbled upon some medications in their homes or in their family's homes and that's how they ended up relapsing," Tom Lutz, clinical supervisor at Kinnic Falls Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services Inc., said.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

More info

You can find a drug take-back location near you at doseofreality.mn.gov or by calling 800-657-3787. And if you or someone you know need help finding treatment for substance abuse, search sud.fasttrackermn.org.