Ken Whitehouse of the Nashville City Paper recently interviewed Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long . The interview focused on the challenges faced by law enforcement In Williamson County , Tennessee. Surprisingly , Sheriff Long stated prescription drug abuse is the number 1 problem facing the Williamson County Sheriff’s office. Here is some of his comments;

 Our number one issue is prescription drug abuse. We have people that go “doctor shopping” looking for prescriptions and kids that raid medicine cabinets and bring it into the schools. We are combating that problem with enforcement and prevention

Sheriff Long blames doctor shopping. I agree with him to some degree , but what about all the pain clinics that dole out these paper prescriptions like candy. Who has a duty to prescribe these powerful medications responsibility ? Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem across our country not just Williamson County.

The key question should prescription drug abuse be treated primarily as a medical problem or a criminal justice matter.  The blog Grits for Breakfast posted about the criminalization of prescription drug abuse in Texas. There were some interesting facts that were discussed. Dr.Emilie Beck testified that one in five Texas teens have experimented with prescription drugs.

What is the answer ?  I agree with one proposal in Texas. All first offenders would be presumed to get treatment rather than jail or probation. The presumption would not apply to drug trafficking crimes. Where someone gets addicted to pain pills , society must fix the problem of addiction rather than just send people off to jail.