The Federation of State Medical Boards met earlier this week and talked to Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, about the prescription drug abuse epidemic in this country.
“While there is no silver bullet that we can point to that will easily solve this problem, we need to help people understand that this problem is coming in its initial stages out of our medicine cabinets and that abusers are getting the drugs they misuse from their friends and family members for free,” Kerlikowske said.
Kerlikowske said that as abusers become addicts, their habits will change as they get fewer prescription drugs from friends and family and begin to doctor shop and get their drugs from physicians at pill mills. Before Kerlikowske became the director of national drug policy, he was the police chief in Seattle for nine years. He does not worry about being perceived as soft on crime.
“My law enforcement colleagues don’t talk about a war on drugs anymore. They say we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. That’s why I think that prevention programs are so important, and they don’t often get the attention that they should. For too long we have looked at the problem as a criminal justice problem and we need to look at this as a public health problem. The recovery issue is particularly important. We need to have programs that will lead to treatment instead of incarceration.”