Be a Part of the Conversation was honored to host Thomas McLellan, Ph.D. for a public discussion about a vital and timely topic: “How Can We Stop the Nation’s Fastest Growing Drug Problem?” On March 18, 2014, Dr. McLellan delivered a fascinating presentation, illuminating the progressive and accelerated use of prescription drugs in this country, which often times leads to heroin use due to its reduced cost. As he said, “Prescription drug abuse is like prep school for heroin abuse.” He helped our audience to understand the potential risks associated with prescription drugs by describing the difference between drug use, abuse and addiction. Often, addiction results because of a lack of consequences for the use or abuse of drugs. Here are just a few of the important points made by Dr. McLellan:

  • Prescription opioid overdose is now the number one cause of accidental death in the United States, surpassing automobile accidents.
  • We use 10 times the amount of pain medication than any other country.
  • A study was done in 2007 where drivers were randomly asked if they would allow their mouths to be swabbed, which detects alcohol or most drugs within three hours of use. Eleven percent tested positive for a legal drug (mostly marijuana); 5% tested positive for medications (mostly opioids); and about 10% tested positive for alcohol. Therefore, about 26% of drivers on our roads have something they’ve consumed that is compromising their ability to drive.
  • Vermont is now the state with the highest rate of opioid drug overdose deaths. The governor of Vermont recently dedicated his entire State of the State speech to opioid overdose death.
  • White House Office of National Drug Control, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) all agree: Prescription opioid overdose is now recognized as a national epidemic.

A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D. is the CEO and co-founder of the Treatment Research Institute (TRI) and an experienced substance abuse researcher.

Following his presentation, attendees broke out into small groups and discussed what they heard from Dr. McLellan. For the Q&A, Dr. McLellan was joined by a physician, a treatment professional, and a young man who is in recovery from prescription drug addiction.

View the presentation about Prescription Drug Abuse with A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D.:

McLellan Video-play arrow

Below, you will find resources and supportive information related to Dr. McLellan’s presentation. If you have any questions or feedback, please send an email to

From Treatment Research Institute:

Support for Parents of a Child Struggling with Drugs and Alcohol
From mood swings to risk tang, “normal teenage behavior” can appear to be anything-but-normal to parents and other bystanders. However, new research reveals that patterns of brain development during these formative years play a significant role in shaping your teen’s personality and actions. You’ve come to the right place if you’re one of the millions of parents who have ever wondered:

•   “Who is this kid?”
•   “Why does my teen do that?”
•   ”What can I do?”

Through the use of video, interactive segments, scenario-based role-playing experiences, and practical advice from experts, A Parent’s Guide to the Teen Brain explores the science behind teenage brain development and how it shapes normal teenage attitude and behavior. Find tools and tips – all designed to help you connect with your teen. Gain insights into teen brain development and apply your new knowledge of normal teenage behavior to real life.

Are you looking for a drug and alcohol treatment program for your teen or young adult? This list of questions can help guide your conversation with treatment program staff in helping you decide which program is the best fit for your child and family.
Our presenter was A. Thomas McLellan of the Treatment Research Institute. Follow this link to receive their monthly eNewsletter.


Related News Stories:

By Jack Firneno, The Midweek Wire; March 26, 2014
By Gary Weckselblatt, The Intelligencer; March 18, 2014
By Richard Gazarik, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; February 23, 2014
Posted in Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center, March 14, 2014
By Harold Pollack, Washington Post Wonkblog; February 7, 2014
Dr. McLellan mentioned this story in his presentation.
By Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times; January 8, 2014
By Josie Feliz, The Partnership at; December 18, 2013
By Rebecca Farley, National Council for Behavioral Health; October 30, 2013
By Don Sapatkin, Philadelphia Inquirer; October 10, 2013


This is the study that Dr. McLellan referenced in his presentation:

2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers


Other helpful information:

5 Signs Your Teen May Be Abusing Medicine
Last Year, Millions of Parents Learned They Were Their Teen’s Drug Dealer
Click here for article.
Psychology Today:  “Preventing Relapse Among Addicted Youth”
Click here for article.
A Parent’s Guide to Talking to Teens About Drugs and Alcohol
Drug Guide for Parents:  Learn the Facts to Keep Your Teen Safe

Find help from:
Support Groups  |  Professional Resources
  |  Parent Partnership

Kim Porter, CFRS
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