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Why prescription drug abuse in the US impacts Latin America

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• InSight Crime researches, analyzes, and investigates organized crime in the Americas. Find all of Elyssa Pachico's research here.

A new Senate report highlights how prescription drug abuse is now one of the biggest health and security problems facing the US, casting doubt on the conventional wisdom that Latin American cartels still present the biggest risk to the US in terms of drug policy

The latest briefing by the US Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control calls attention to a shift in drug consumption trends observed for several years now. While use of [...] cocaine and marijuana appears stable, if not decreasing, prescription drugs are now the second most common form of drug abuse in the US. The White House previously called it the “the Nation’s fastest-growing drug problem.” And as the Senate briefing points out, prescription drugs are now responsible for the majority of overdose deaths in the US, outnumbering deaths involving heroin and cocaine combined. Meanwhile the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to legal opiates increased 400 percent between 2004 and 2008, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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