Safe Disposal of Medications and the Healthy Minds Coalition

Safe Disposal of Medications

More than 2.9 million opioid prescriptions are written every year in Wisconsin.  And when unused or expired medications start to pile up, it’s easy for them to fall into the wrong hands.  Far too often, medications that get overlooked cause unintended harm or become a gateway to misuse.

Disposal Option:  Permanent Medication Drop Boxes

Gather what you no longer need, remove or cover up prescription or personal information, and put them in a Ziploc bag.  You can then take them to one of the permanent medication drop boxes located in Lincoln County.  These include:

  • Merrill Police Department – Monday thru Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • Marshfield Clinic – Merrill near their pharmacy – Monday thru Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tomahawk Police Department – available 24/7 by calling 715-453-2121 to coordinate drop off
  • Tomahawk Pharmacy – Monday thru Friday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or Saturday 9 a.m. to noon

According the Department of Health Services, Wisconsin has continually been a leader in collecting unused and expired medications.  In the past, upwards of 100,000 pounds of medications have been collected in a single year. That’s the same weight as two full-sized snowplows you see clearing our WI roads every winter.  But the most important part of the collection effort is a statistic impossible to measure – the lives potentially saved with every safe disposal.

Disposal Option:  Drug Deactivation Units

The Lincoln County Healthy Minds Coalition through the Wisconsin State Opioid Response grant has received a supply of 400 drug deactivation units.  These deactivation units are a safe way to dispose of medications in your normal trash.    Each unit can be used to dispose of up to 45 pills or 6 ounces of liquid or 6 patches.

These deactivation units have been distributed throughout the county.  Currently, you can stop by the Lincoln County Health Department in the Health and Human Service Building (607 N, Sales Street, #2, Merrill, WI, 54452) to request them.

Ways to Keep Medications Safely

  • Store all medications in a locked container to prevent prescription drug abuse and young children from getting into it. Again, the Healthy Minds Coalition through the Wisconsin State Opioid Response grant has received a supply of medication lock boxes.  If you are in need of one of these boxes, please stop by the Health Department to request one.
  • Do not share your medications. They were prescribed for you and you only.
  • Always follow your medical provider’s instructions.
  • Be a good role model with your own medications.
  • Properly conceal and dispose of old or unused medications.
  • Note how many pills are in a bottle or pill packet and keep track of refills. If you find you have to refill a medication more often than expected, someone may be taking your medication without your knowledge.

Parents and caregivers should talk with your children about the risks of misusing prescription and over-the-counter medications.   You can find more information and resources at

Healthy Minds Coalition: What it is and How to get Involved

The mission of the Healthy Minds Coalition is to bring the community together to empower people through education and resources to support healthy choices regarding substances and social and emotional well-being.  The coalition has four primary goals:

  • Increase preventative education and outreach that increases knowledge, strengthens families, builds life skills and increases resiliency.
  • Increase outreach/programming for those identified as high risk in the community.
  • Reduce means to suicide and access to alcohol and other drugs
  • Become a community that supports recovery

The coalition meets four times a year in January, April, July and October on the third Tuesday at 10 a.m.  If you would like to get involved in our efforts or learn more, contact Kristin Bath, Public Health Educator at 715-539-1373.   New members are always welcome to join.

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