Plague of dodgy prescriptions puts illicit drugs in the shade

Despite a lively public debate about illicit drugs, the dominant drugs of addiction overtaking Western societies are those prescribed legally by trusted doctors. Prescription drugs, initially given to modulate chronic pain, reduce disabling anxiety or lift fledgling moods, are most likely to become chemicals of abuse and addiction.

The numbers are staggering.

The National Drug Strategy household survey results in 2009 reported more than 1.2 million Australians had used a pharmaceutical drug for a non-medical purpose.

Several experts, such as Professor Nick Lintzeris of Sydney University, believe as many as 100,000 Australians may have a problem with prescription painkillers. Prescribed opioids are fast replacing heroin, cocaine and ice as the drug of choice in the illicit markets — via

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