Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Devils in the Medicine Chest

Last week I went to the Centers for Disease Control and banged heads with other public health policy types over this problem: how can we stem the burgeoning epidemic of prescription drug overdoses?

A question near and dear to my academic heart, the one I cut my doctoral teeth on some years ago.

Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem: 1 in 14 US citizens non-medically use medications like OxyContin, Vicodin, Ativan, and Adderall. Where do they get the stuff? Not Mexico, the internet, or even from their docs - Almost 60% report families and friends as their source.

We sat around in a double-tiered u-shaped configuration, a bunch of experts from the FDA, the CDC, NIDA, SAMHSA, DEA, State govs, and the Ivory Towers - even a judge - and listened to each other pontificate on the pros and cons of drug courts, serialized prescription forms, electronic monitoring programs. Yet, despite expansion of these programs, prescription drug abuse continues to rise, even as the use of cocaine, heroin, and rave drugs declines.

Sitting in the windowless room for two days, it occurred to me these programs barely make a dent in the abuse problem because they come at the wrong point in the food chain: after a doc has prescribed, after a pharmacist has dispensed, after a patient has gotten hooked and in trouble.

It seemed to me the solution to prescription drug abuse is pretty damn straightforward: Just lock the stuff up.

And maybe educate everyone that OxyContin isn't quite as innocuous as candy.


Last night my 9 year-old son spent an hour on the internet, researching the question of Santa. His conclusion made me weep - why DO they grow up so fast?

The tree’s up, cookie supplies are in, here come the holy days.

THE READING... Ooooh, having so much fun: Wally Lamb, Dirk Wittenberg, Julia Glass, and so on and so on...

THE WRITING… A children’s story – can you believe? And it even has a happy ending. What’s wrong with me?

LISTENING TO... The KILLERS Day and Age. Good stuff. As a writer, though, I just want to edit HUMAN - shouldn't it be dancerS, not dancer?

For the frugal readers among you... FREEBIE BOOKS FROM BLEAK HOUSE and INTRIGUE PRESS

Peace, Linda


  1. Interesting post. Rx drugs ARE a huge problem in law enforcement - and difficult to prove are being used in an abusive fashion.

    Love The Killers. --LR

  2. Ooooh is it the new Wally Lamb?

    Awww, 9 is a decent age though. I was 8 when I found out Santa wasn't real, and I was the ONLY one in my class who still believed and the other kids made fun of me for it, so my parents told me.

    I had a friend who was thinking of trying oxycontin for fun, her cousin had some and she's kinda into drugs, and a few of us had to talk her out of it, tell her it wasn't candy as you put it. It took some serious convincing. I think another problem is that it sells - I knew someone who had was in a lot of pain with numerous leg/ankle problems, so she was prescribed pain pills, but she was also really poor so she sold it sometimes even when she needed it for herself.

    Scary stuff.

  3. Thanks for dropping by, L. I still have that crazy song bopping around in my head... And hey Chrys! Oxy's particularly tough because many folks who abuse it for the first time don't understand that CHEWING Oxy versus just swallowing can kill you - it releases a huge surge of opiate into your bloodstream at once. Ugh (btw, that's how Ben OD'd...).

    New Wally on Santa's list - rereading I Know This Much is True... Peace, Linda

  4. I like the new look, Linda ~ easier on the eye than the deep backdrop of last year's style.

    So sorry your internet-savvy son went looking for answers. :( My twin 9-yr-olds still hold the torch. :)

    And you're writing a children's story! Oh the things I learn about you here! Happy new year to you!