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Rise in Pill Abuse Forces New Look at U.S. Drug Fight

By DAMIEN CAVE and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
New York Times

MEXICO CITY — America’s drug problem is shifting from illicit substances like cocaine to abuse of prescription painkillers, a change that is forcing policy makers to re-examine the long and expensive strategy of trying to stop illegal drugs from entering the United States.

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This rethinking extends beyond the United States, where policy makers are debating how to better reduce demand for painkillers. The effects would also be felt here and in Central America: With the drug wars in Mexico inflaming violence, some argue that the money now used for interdiction could be better spent building up the institutions — especially courts and prosecutors’ offices — that would lead to long-term stability in Mexico and elsewhere.

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