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The Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 22 yielded more than 575 pounds of unused prescriptions and medications in Ozaukee County, according to the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department.

The collection day saw almost triple the amount received compared to last year, with 233 pounds alone collected at the Ozaukee County Transit Services building in Port Washington.

The take back day was part of a nationwide campaign by the Department of Justice to curb prescription drug abuse known as Dose of Reality. According to the Dose of Reality website for Wisconsin, four out of five heroin addicts started with addictions to prescription painkillers.

Amy Kozicki, public health educator for the department, believes the huge turnout was a result of concerns over the growing heroin epidemic in Wisconsin. She credited the increase in public awareness to the number of public service announcements made through radio and billboards.

"While I don't think that the use of heroin is as prevalent as it is in Milwaukee or Waukesha counties, I do think that people in Ozaukee County are taking this far more seriously," said Kozicki. "People are more informed about the dangers of unused medications and the gateway it can create towards heroin use."

According to Kozicki, the drugs collected on the during the event were moved by the Department of Justice to its southeastern Wisconsin collection site, where they can be sorted based on controlled and uncontrolled substances. Controlled substances like pain medications (such as oxycodone or hydrocodone) are marked for incineration. This method of disposal prevents contamination, specifically in water supplies.

While the next official take back day is not until April, collection boxes are available to the public year-round at several locations in Ozaukee County.

For drop off locations and other information regarding Dose of Reality, visit their website at doseofrealitywi.gov.

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