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DEA Administrator: Help Us Stop Prescription Drug Abuse

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Michele Leonhart, DEA Administrator

All of us who are passionate about reducing drug abuse cannot ignore the growing dangers of prescription drug abuse, particularly among teens and young adults.  By preventing drug abuse where it starts, we can make a tremendous difference in the life of our nation: one community, one family and one child at a time.

 the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has highlighted this disturbing trend with a staggering statistic from the 2010 Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey (PATS): One out of four teens has admitted to taking a prescription drug not prescribed to them.  This confirms what we see in other studies and in our drug enforcement work at DEA:  

  • More prescriptions are being written than ever before: There has been an increase of almost 50 percent in retail pharmacy prescriptions for opioids (the most frequently abused prescription drug class) in the past decade–more than a quarter billion in 2009;
  • More people are dying from prescription drugs: There has been nearly a 300 percent increase in deaths from prescription opioids in less than a decade; 
  • There has been a spike in teen abuse of prescription drugs: More teenagers are abusing prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine combined;

We also know where abusers are getting prescription drugs. It’s often from friends and family, particularly home medicine cabinets that provide easy access, which leads to accidents and the illegal sale of these drugs:

  • A recent survey found that over 70 percent of those who abused prescription pain relievers got them from friends or relatives;
  • PATS shows nearly half of teens believe it is easy to get prescription drugs from their family’s medicine cabinet;   

We can make a difference in stopping prescription drug abuse.  It will not be easy.  It will not be quick.  But together, we can change access, attitudes and keep these drugs out of harm’s way.

One important step we can take right now is to make sure we safely and securely dispose of unused, unneeded and expired medications.  Many of you joined DEA on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day last September to do just that.  With your help, we collected over 121 tons of prescription drugs. This Saturday, April 30, we will be holding another Take-Back Day at thousands of locations across the nation.  We already have more collection sites registered than last year. Please visit www.DEA.gov to find the location nearest you.

Soon, DEA will develop regulations to implement the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 passed last fall by Congress and signed by the President.  This will provide for a permanent solution for the safe disposal of controlled substance prescription drugs.  It will not, however, end our need to be vigilant in this fight.

I am certain that the more we can do to stop the abuse of prescription drugs, the more effective we will be in reducing the death, destruction and despair that accompanies all drug abuse.  Thank you for your partnership with DEA.

Michele M. Leonhart
DEA Administrator
Drug Enforcement Administration
U.S. Department of Justice

12 Responses to this article

  1. Theresa Rizzo / June 25, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    my brother see s a Doctor every month he states he has severe leg pain due to cystic ulcer thrombosis when he has a doctor appointment the doctor not once even looked at his sore just ask my brother what he needs for pain . he usually orders oxy cotton but this last visit he gave him oxy cotton and morphine my brother sells the pill never takes them how can i report this no good doctor to stop this please help me .

  2. Avatar of Peg Boguslwaski
    Peg Boguslwaski / July 2, 2013 at 6:02 am

    I have been trying to report my brother and the friends that had taken him and train him what to say to pain clinics to get these drugs ie mscontin , morphine , Vicodin , doxepin , Ativan and others .. They r all on SSI or welfare , we the taxpayer pay for them to sale these pills to others and caused three deaths that I am aware of .. I have given proof that I found in my son’s rental a list of names and sales of pills , yesterday I had seen these same offenders who r on probation after trespassing and breaking and entering , robbing left there garbage at my son’s property he owns and does not reside in .. My brother just uses this house to sale drugs , there is no water in this residence ! I have found another round of new doctors these people r getting perscription drugs from and all go to the same doctor , his name is Dr Malik in Ford City , Pa he had spent jail time a few years back for not paying taxes . He must have Dr Associates to write these scripts .. They all tell there friends to dr shop there ! I would like help to stop this . Our county is doing nothing ! I need someone who will listen before more young people die . I know for a fact that the pills that killed at least three people were sold to them by my brother who is on SSI he lies to get frauduant law suits, state rebate monies, welfare , foodstamps , he collects rent monies never reports income to SSI or welfare ! Please stop these kinds of people

  3. Avatar of GAngela
    GAngela / May 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Wanna stop prescription drug use and abuse. A great place to start with the physician. Every time he/she writes a prescription and it is filled… the doctor gets paid. STOP PAYING THE DOCTOR TO WRITE PRESCRIPTIONS!

  4. Avatar of J. Ohio
    J. Ohio / February 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I just buried someone close to me because of an overdose on prescription drugs. This is getting out of control! Why are these narcotics so easy to get just from a few hours at the emergency room? It’s amazing what people say and these doctors just hand them over. This is a serious problem that is growing all over the world!! I can understand for people who actually needs the stuff.. But there needs to be some kind of limit.

  5. Avatar of Aldo Romani
    Aldo Romani / January 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I would like to get in touch with Agent “George” from the Miami Office. My phone is not working at the moment, please e-mail me and tell when are were to meet. I have a pill distribuitor to discus.

    Yours truly
    A.Z

  6. Avatar of John Perchiacca
    John Perchiacca / May 2, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Since many pain management clinics meet on the same day of the week, why not reduce the days supply prescribed to 28 days. Every month we dispense 30 days supply we put an additional 2 days supply in the medicine cabinet. After one year the patient will have on average of 24 days of additional medication sitting in their medicine cabinet.

  7. Avatar of Key Logger
    Key Logger / May 2, 2011 at 4:27 am

    Really deaths from drug prescription are one of the most remarking details now days, one should need to feel the responsibility and try a forward step in order to remove this.

  8. Dina / April 30, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Why is no one addressing stringent regulations for doctors prescribing these drugs? How many times do I hear that someone was prescribed addictive opiates to young people for conditions such as fibromyalgia. I am speaking as a trained Interventionist and drug counselor. It begins with the legal drug lord…the prescribing physician. Say what you will…words sound nice; however, the bottom line is that doctors need to be held on an extreme level of accountability. The “MD” degree only means that you can read and learn. It does NOT mean that you are ethical.

  9. Avatar of Kevin Weir
    Kevin Weir / April 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Why not start with recinding the Suboxone/Buprenorphrine prescriptions. MDs are causing the greatest induction of new young opioid users and the excess prescriptions are setting up a whole new generation of dealers!

  10. Avatar of maryellen doyle
    maryellen doyle / April 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I am in recovery with 30 years clean and sober. I shopped physicians expertly in my using days and was always supplied, legally, with the drugs of my choice. The U.S. government knows the professional culprits who write all the scrips. This is a national disgrace and it’s about time such abuse is stopped.

  11. Avatar of Dennis L Johnson
    Dennis L Johnson / March 22, 2013 at 10:36 am

    How can I report a doctor who has reintroduced a meth addict to meth through ridulin and valium?

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