Walgreen Partners with Lake County Opioid Initiative to Help Save Lives

Above, Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim accepts a check for the county’s opioid initiative from Joe Willey, Walgreen regional vice-president Wednesday at the Walgreen store at Lewis Ave. & Belvidere Rd. in Waukegan.  – Tina Johansson photos

by Long Hwa-shu

How do you dispose of unused or expired prescriptions especially controlled substance like opiates?

Don’t flush them down the toilet please. It could get into the ground water, which is potentially dangerous. And don’t toss them in the trash. That too, can be a hazard.

The go-to place to dispose of your prescriptions is at the Walgreen store – the same place where you go to get them filled.

With great fanfare Wednesday Walgreen Co. officially launched a medication disposal kiosk at its store in Waukegan at 1811 Belvidere Road. It also donated $5,000 in a check to the Lake County Opioid Initiative to fight the widespread abuse of painkillers.

We have seen too many tragic examples of lives destroyed by the misuse of prescription medication, particularly opiates.” – Mike Nerheim, Lake County State’s Attorney

Local leaders including County Board chairman Aaron Lawlor, State’s Atty. Mike Nerheim, Undersheriff Raymond Rose and State Sen. Terry Link were there because the kiosk, tucked at the far corner of the store’s pharmacy, will help to save lives.

“We know that less supply equals less likelihood for opioid addiction,” said Lawlor aptly, pointing to the need for government and the private sector to continue working together to fight the drug abuse crisis that is sweeping through Lake County and across the country.

He urged people to go through their medicine cabinets and take unused or unwanted medications to the kiosk.

The kiosk at the store on Belvidere Road at Lewis Avenue is one of three placed at Walgreens stores in Lake County. The other two are at stores in Deerfield and Buffalo Grove. Nationwide, Walgreen is installing 500 such kiosks in select locations. By placing these kiosks, Walgreen, said Joe Willey, regional vice president, is “taking an important first step to curb the misuse of medications throughout the country.”

State’s Atty. Nerheim who is credited with initiating a program to place drug collection boxes at police departments throughout the county stressed that the program has saved many lives.

“We have seen too many tragic examples of lives destroyed by the misuse of prescription medication, particularly opiates,” he said.

Since placing the drop boxes at police department, he said more than 12,000 pounds of prescription pills have been collected which means “less drugs on the street.”

Undersheriff Rose noted that kiosks as well as disposal boxes are easy and convenient to use by the public “to prevent prescription drugs from getting in the wrong hands.” He thanked Walgreen for providing the trio of public sites to dispose of prescription drugs.”

Walgreen Co. has placed drug drop-off kiosks at two other sites in the county including Buffalo Grove at 15 N. Buffalo Grove Road; and Deerfield at 780 Waukegan Road.

Sen. Link said until he introduced a bill two years ago in the Illinois Legislature, Lake County had to haul all the unused and expired prescription drugs collected to Indiana for disposal (incineration). State Bill 2928 which passed the legislature and became law on Aug. 4, 2014 authorizes the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County to dispose of the drugs with funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Link complimented Nerheim and Lake County law enforcement for taking the initiative to save lives with the use of drop boxes.

“That’s leadership,” he said, confident that with the Walgreen Company joining in the fight against drug abuse more lives will be saved.

  • Walgreen Co. Regional V.P. Joe Willey spoke before presenting a check for $5,000 to the Lake County Opioid Initiative.

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