Limiting prescription drug abuse in La Crosse won’t be as easy as putting up a drop-off box for old meds.

La Crosse County’s Heroin Task Force, formed last year, attributes the region’s growing heroin problem to a prevalence of prescribed opiates. Hoping to limit the availability of unused medications and the potential for abuse, Task Force members wanted to place permanent drop-off boxes in secure locations for people to dump old prescriptions.

However, existing regulations make the plan tougher to implement than previously believed, as do new rules that could be rolled out in March by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, task force co-chairman Mike Desmond said Thursday at the group’s twice-monthly meeting.

“We’d like to give you all sorts of great news on how easy it is to just put them in and, you know, pick up the drugs and that’s the end of it,” Desmond said. “We’ve found out that it’s much more complicated than that.”

The group had included the drop-boxes in its list of short-term strategic goals.

Community members and health care providers on the task force discussed whether there were safe ways to dispose of old medications at home. Getting rid of old pills isn’t as easy as throwing them in the trash.

“You’re disposing of substances that can be easily abused,” said Lisa Meyer, a pharmacist for Gundersen Health System.  

In other business, the Heroin Task Force added new goals to its strategic plan, pushing to get more local doctors registered for the Wisconsin Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

About 8 percent of prescribing physicians in Wisconsin have signed up for access to the program, which gives doctors and nurses the ability to track a patient’s prescriptions.

The Task Force hopes to have 20 percent of Coulee Region doctors registered for the program by next year, with a long-term goal of having 90 percent of local doctors registered.

The online tool shows how many times a patient has received a medication, but it’s up to doctors to determine whether the records reflect a problem, Meyer said.

“It helps them to figure out if the patient has drug-seeking behavior,” Meyer said.

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(9) comments

Major Dogg

I have an idea, just put your unwanted meds in a brown paper bag and leave it on the counter at the Gundersen pharmacy. They are the ones getting rich peddling the stuff, make them dispose of it properly.

Gundersen pharmacist Loren Carrell is an idiot.


I am very disappointed to hear that LaCrosse ha failed to do what so many communities across the US have been able to...set up their own 24/7 drug disposal program. Maybe they should contact a teenager in Reedsburg, Jordyn Schara, who has set up more than 10 programs (starting when she was only 14), on her own with her program WI P2D2 (Wisconsin Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal). Check out: Reedsburg, Baraboo, WI Dells, Lake Delton, Ripon, Sauk Prairie, Juneau Cnty, and Richland Cnty. The citizens of Lacrosse need something better than a pathetic cop out...they need someone who isn't intimidated by the DEA. Google her name and you'll find out how successful she has been with her programs.


Well said, outlook. Nothing will stop with our system. Recycling of drugs is a job for the pharmaceutical industry,they must also make pain management a priority by making drugs which cant be as easily be abused,snorted or injected. Alcohol use also skyrockets from a person in pain. Dont need more jails ,cameras,and police sitting by a recycling box making assumptions or drunks on our roads.


Drug use is never going to be controlled, no matter how much anyone wants it to be. It's been going on since prehistoric times. We need to do what some European countries have done. Their systems works. All ours does, is drive people into secrecy, hiding away from people so they die alone if they happen to take to much of something. The war on drugs is a multimillion dollar business. Those who don't want help, well stop at nothing to find away to alter their outlook on life. Those who make all the money, lobby our government to keep a system in place, even though they know the system doesn't work. The thought of losing their cash cows is un-thinkable.


I did not know that 08/100 of our Drs. were that stupid, no wonder heroin use is up.


Mike Desmond , the police, and friendly waste recycler all want your drugs. They know more about pain management than all the Drs., nurses and pharmacists in the area. Ask them they will tell you so and how much they know more than you.Isnt that right Mike?


So now again the drug problem seems to require more invasive procedures for the majority of people that are not abusers. My Dr. needs a tool to tell him If I have a problem?

Does this involve my medical history? How many junkies turn to their Dr. for drugs? And isn't this what Drs are for?

And the idea that junkies go through the garbage to find dope is laughable. Crazy in the extreme. I mean come on, think that over. Really stop and roll that one around in your mind for a bit.

Tim Russell

Why would anyone be afraid to allow a Dr. to see their medical history? Prescription drug addicts would rather get their fix without going through black marketers - it's cheaper and more legal. I believe Drs are for more than writing a script.
It's not junkies going through your garbage that is a problem. It's what the byproduct of incinerating them does to the air and groundwater that is the problem.

Major Dogg

[quote]"One way to dispose of old medications is to toss them in a laundry detergent bottle, add bleach and seal before dumping the whole thing in the garbage, said Loren Carrell, another Gundersen pharmacist."[/quote]

This certainly doesn't sound scientific. I thought one of the main goals was to make sure these chemicals don't leech into the water table. I'm not sure this would go over well with the city's new single-stream recycling either. You would be breaking the LAW by putting even an empty bleach bottle in the garbage, much less a plastic bottle containing a caustic cocktail like this.

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