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Friends and Family Enable Mass Rx Drug Abuse

Most prescription drug abusers are willingly given pills by people they know, say researchers.

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By Rebecca Gray

04/25/12

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Rather than having to sneak prescription drugs from the medicine cabinet, researchers say, most prescription drug abusers—and the DEA estimates there are seven million in the US—are given pills by friends or family willingly, and for free. Over 70% of prescription drug abusers procure drugs in this way, shows a new study released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It's a tough problem for law enforcement to tackle. Because prescription drugs are often initially obtained quite legally, regulation involves persuading legitimate patients to be more diligent about disposing of their meds. But that's little help if prescribed users have no qualms about selling or giving their prescriptions away.  "At the end of the day, our strongest tool is vigilance among everyone with access to a medicine cabinet," says Gil Kerlikowske, chief of the White House's anti-drug campaign. But right now a lack of vigilance—or worse—is our biggest weakness.

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