Prescription Drugs

01.24.13

Legal Drugs are Abused Too

Drugs legalizers argue that the harms from drugs can be effectively contained by regulations and age limits. Evan Soltas in Bloomberg News shows, however, that regulations are easily overcome. Prescription drugs are the classic example of substances sold subject to regulation. And they have emerged as one of our fastest growing areas of substance abuse. Prescription drug abuse is now the country's leading cause of accidental death.

In 1999, a total of 2 kilograms of such drugs were sold for every 10,000 people; as of 2010, about 7 kilograms were. According to the CDC, opioid analgesics such as methadone, hydrocodone and oxycodone are the most common cause of drug poisoning.

There is no easy gimmick that will put an end to the risks and harms of dangerous substances. Legalization does not make those harms go away, because regulation is as difficult to enforce as prohibition.