U.S. Rethinks Drug War as Pill Abuse Rises

The abuse of prescription painkillers, rather than illicit substances such as cocaine, has become the focus of America's drug problem, prompting policy makers to re-examine their drug enforcement strategy, The New York Times reported. Experts claim the continued focus on cocaine interdiction, particularly in Honduras and Mexico, has been ineffective because of the changing landscape of drug abuse in the U.S. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health recently found that fewer people used cocaine, and that prescription painkillers were responsible for a majority of overdose deaths in the U.S. The debate policy makers now face is whether to direct the money used for interdiction toward building up institutions, such as courts and prosecutors' offices. Morris Panner, a former counternarcotics prosecutor, said the policies the U.S. has had for the last 41 years have become irrelevant. "Whether those policies worked or not doesn’t matter because they are now worried about Americans using prescription drugs," Panner said.

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