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Fighting Milwaukee's opioid crisis

Take Back My Meds MKE wants your unused medication.

Opioids are the leading non-natural cause of death in Milwaukee County.

Headlines continue to sweep the country as the death toll continues to soar, telling us that we, as a country, are in crisis. Access to prescription medication is easier than ever, making it possible to feed an addiction that many people may have developed without realizing it. Necessary drugs prescribed by a doctor turns into a need, as the trend of over-prescribing combined with withdrawal is a guided road into dangerous territory.

National headlines can make it difficult to localize, however. The alarm bells may not toll right away in your own city.

Take Back My Meds MKE is responding to those bells. They've grown a coalition of nearly 20 partners in Milwaukee County with the goal of making it easier for residents to fight the opioid crisis, here at home, by safely disposing of unused prescription medicine.

By establishing secure drug take-back locations at both pharmacies and Milwaukee County police stations, residents can take a significant step towards preventing addiction from reaching their own home.

70 percent of opioid addictions start at home from unused drugs left in medicine cabinets.

Jon Richards, the Coalition Director for Take Back My Meds MKE, says the volume of unused drugs is astounding.

"Roughly one third of all prescription medication goes unused," he says, "and we're only collecting about ten percent of that volume."

Dropboxes continue to be placed around the city to heighten convenience. There are currently 47 drop boxes in Milwaukee County, with more being added. The program makes it easy for pharmacies and other organizations to sponsor a drop box.

To learn more about the program, watch our video story above and listen to our audio version below.

To find a drop box near you go to