Prescription pill abuse is out of control in Tennessee. Early in my career as a attorney, the drugs of choice were cocaine and marijuana. In the last few years, there has been an explosion in the abuse of prescription pills. The question is why and what can we do about the problem. Most folks think that because it is regulated by several groups that it should not be a problem. Boy are they wrong. Tennessee’s criminal courtrooms are filled with folks that got addicted to these pills.

Here are some hard facts;

  • Tennessee is in the top 1% of states that sell pain pills.
  • Tennessee is in the top ten states for drug overdose deaths.

Here are three of the problems as reported in a recent article:

  1. Lax reporting standards that would prevent doctor shopping.
  2. The increase in pain clinics and pill mills.
  3. Tennesseans have poor health which triggers an increased demand for pain medication.

Prescription drug abuse means that you are taking a drug not prescribed for you or you are taking it for other reasons or in dosages not prescribed.

What should we do ? Crack down on the source. Better reporting and increased punishment for the pill mill doctors. What should we not do ?  We need to avoid criminalizing drug addiction. Good hard working folks get addicted to these pills. Their only solution is to increase the dosages. Then , a doctor finally discovers the problem and cuts the patient off from the pills. Forgery of prescriptions or buying pills off the streets is what happens. Our state’s reaction is always to throw somebody in jail. The problem needs to be addressed with treatment of this problem not jail cells.

Funny , I have not seen one proposal for treatment or help in any proposal to the Tennessee legislature. Just crime and punishment.