October 5, 2009

Attacking the prescription drug problem, one day at a time

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Montana is putting together a drug crime unit targeted at prescription drug abuse, funded by a new Justice Department grant.  But with few treatment resources, there are few places to divert abusers, authorities concede.

Last year, 321 Montanans died of prescription drug overdoses, compared to 229 killed in automobile accidents, the Missoulian reports. Drug deaths trumped traffic deaths in five other western states, as InvestigateWest reported here last week, and 11 other states across the nation.

In Montana, the money will be used to both educate the public and keep drug abusers out of the regular criminal system.

In many cases it’s a matter of educating doctors and patients. Pain medication isn’t the answer to every physical problem, and unfortunately, too many patients have been conditioned to expect it, and too many doctors give in to that expectation,  in part because of a culture that teaches quick fixes, and in part because of  heavy advertising by pharmaceutical companies that push their products on consumers.

— Rita Hibbard

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