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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Prescription Opioid Abuse Hindered by Marijuana Legalization

The fight against prescription opioid abuse in America can be hindered by the marijuana legalization movement, according to Michael Botticelli, the Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. While marijuana activists continue to argue that pot is harmless, Botticelli says one in nine people who use marijuana will become addicted to the drug, the Associated Press reports.

The use of marijuana at an early age increases the risk of developing dependency on other drugs, including prescription painkillers and heroin, Botticelli points out.

“It’s hard to say at one level that we want to think about prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse without looking at how to prevent kids from starting to use other substances from an early age,” he said at a town hall forum on opioid abuse in Maine.

Unlike previous U.S. Drug Czars, Botticelli's story is different in light of the fact that he is in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder, with more than 25 years of sobriety. “My personal story is very illustrative of what we see with people who go on to significant addiction later in life,” he told the AP.

Maine, not unlike many other states, has been hit hard by the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic that continues to ravage the lives of American citizens. What’s more, Maine is also a state that leans toward marijuana legalization, a trend which could lead to young Americans starting the cycle of addiction early on - possibly leading to opioid abuse.

Prescription drug abuse has been a problem in Maine for years, which has led to a surge of heroin abuse, according to the article. In 2012 and 2013, dozens of pharmacies were robbed for the stock of prescription opioids.

Over the next five years, 19 Maine communities will receive $7.5 million to fight drug abuse, Botticelli said at the forum.

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