Cracking down on prescription drug abuse

April 07, 2010

Prescription drug abuse has grabbed recent headlines with the high profile deaths of celebrities like Corey Haim, Heath Ledger, Anna Nichol Smith and Michael Jackson. But the epidemic of prescription drug abuse is not limited to Hollywood.

Prescription drugs are the now the No. 1 cause of overdose death in the U.S., and they are the second most abused drug behind marijuana.

One of the most popular for addicts to get their prescription drugs is the practice of "doctor shopping." Since there is no system in place to monitor the number of prescriptions that are written for each patient, addicts just go from doctor to doctor until they get what they want. It's not that difficult. Maryland is not immune from this problem, and the legislature should set up a task force to study the magnitude of "doctor shopping" in the state and begin to develop some solutions that could better monitor and control this new and dangerous epidemic. Unlike cocaine or heroin, prescription drug abuse can be controlled by better monitoring of physicians and pharmacies. We need to act now.

Mike Gimbel, Towson

The writer is the former director of substance abuse for Baltimore County and a recovering addict.

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