Anti-Drug Efforts Shift from Marijuana to Prescription Drugs

Over the years, the US government has quietly shifted the focus of its anti-drug efforts from marijuana to prescription drugs. A CBS News survey of government and nonprofit anti-drug groups has found fewer anti-marijuana campaigns over the past several years as prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse has soared among adolescents.

According to a CBS article, the change comes as a result of the decline in marijuana use among teens and growing worry over the abuse of prescription drugs. In fact, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America hasn’t produced a single anti-marijuana ad since 2005.

Marijuana use has been declining for 10 years and past-month use is down 25 percent since 2001, according to the University of Michigan’s “Monitoring the Future” survey, the largest tracking study in the US.

However, prescription drug abuse has been steady over the past five years, with nearly one in five teens abusing prescription medication. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America even refers to young people today as “Generation RX,” pointing to prevalence of this dangerous habit.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy now dedicates all of its campaign resources directed at parents—about $14 million dollars since 2008—to prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse.

“The issue of prescription drug abuse, which the Office of National Drug Control Policy has been shouting about from the rooftops, it is a significant problem in this country,” National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said on “The Early Show” last week.

A report issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement indicated that prescription drugs caused more deaths than illicit drugs, including alcohol-related car accidents. Prescription drugs were the cause of more than 25 percent of drug-related deaths in the state, and marijuana was not listed as a cause of death in Florida last year.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Department of Health and Human Services says that there are now more abusers of prescription drugs each year than there are abusers of marijuana. About 2.15 million people started using prescription pain relievers to get high in 2007, whereas 2.09 million people started using marijuana that year.