Although prescription drugs are harmful, they do have a purpose for people who have a reason to take them. This does not include taking Adderall to study for a test. Too much of anything is bad, even if it comes with a prescription.
The Obama administration has adopted a mainstream approach to the drug problem, employing a balance of public health and safety approaches to reduce drug use and its consequences. All of these policies are grounded in science and research -- not politics or ideology.
If there's contention in the medical community about the risk and effectiveness of painkillers, the debate gets more heated still when it comes to what sort of public policy should govern how the drugs are used.
Two important public health policy matters that require the attention of policy makers seem to be constantly in tension with one another: the under-treatment of chronic pain and the abuse of prescription medications.
Reports that Xanax and other benzos are not usually lethal when taken alone are vastly misleading. Xanax is rarely taken alone. Why? Because as much or more than any other prescribed drug, Xanax causes medication spellbinding.
Plans for the manufacture and sale of hydrocodone pills five to 10 times more potent than is now available is a warning sign of an escalation of what we might call the "prescription opiate arms race" among pharmaceutical companies.
Today we continue our Year-End Retrospective with a look at the biggest news stories of scientific research into cannabis, public opinion polls on legalization, and statistical research on cannabis consumers.