Saturday, April 23, 2011

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Announces New Prescription Drug Abuse Plan

Finally, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is bringing some attention to the prescription drug problem and has recognized that the use of prescription drugs has far outstripped the use of any illicit substances, except marijuana.  It's great to see this issue getting some focus, and I hope, because prescription drugs are legal, it might challenge policymakers to come up with new ways of approaching drug policy.  The plan focuses on physician education and prescription monitoring, recognizing that the increase prescription drug misuse and overdoses has followed a dramatic increase in the number of narcotics being prescribed for pain in recent years.  Our drug policy has focused for so long on demonizing and punishing the relatively few users of illicit drugs, like heroin and cocaine, in ways that are highly racialized.  I am interested to see if this "new epidemic" shifts the stigma surrounding drug use and fosters a different kind of drug policy or just leads to a bifurcated system where some people get treatment and others go to prison.

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