The state’s Department of Justice is kicking off a new campaign to alert residents to the dangers of misusing opioid pain medications. It is an abuse that now exceeds deaths involving heroin and cocaine combined.

Dose of Reality – Preventing Prescription Painkiller Abuse in Wisconsin, is a statewide marketing campaign designed to raise awareness of this issue and encourage the community to take action.

“There is so much information to share, and misinformation to clear up, surrounding this issue, which I discovered as I traveled the state over the past year talking about the heroin epidemic,” Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said. “This is a message of hope and prevention. We can win this battle and make our state safer and healthier.”

According to Kitty Rhoades, secretary of the Department of Health Services, overdoses of opioid painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, accounted for 45 percent of the 843 drug overdose deaths in Wisconsin in 2013. “This is truly a public health crisis, and one that can be eliminated through sharing information about the risks involved in misusing these medications.”

The campaign is not designed to vilify prescription painkillers nor those who prescribe them, but to raise awareness that when used or stored improperly, they can be dangerous or even deadly.

The DOJ will be working over the next 30 days to promote its Drug Take Back Day.

The Waterloo Police Department is participating in a Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Police will accept unused or expired medication for safe disposal. The medication can be brought to the department at 136 N. Monroe St.

The Dose of Reality has a website, that has an interactive map for people to find other drug back locations.

The website also offers information, resources and an online ordering portal that will make the campaign assets available at no cost to DOJ’s partners to access, customize and use in their own communities.

The goal of the program is to inform and educate Wisconsin residents about the improper use of prescription painkillers; warn about the dangers of inadequate storage and disposal of prescription painkillers; inform each audience as to the role they play in education and abuse prevention from medical providers and parents to high school students and young adults; and encourage positive action.

That positive action is to get rid of old and outdated painkillers. Take advantage of the local Drug Take Back Day and clean out that medicine cabinet.

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