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R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, says singer Whitney Houston’s death is an opportunity to talk about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

Although it is not yet known whether prescription drugs were linked to Houston’s death, she had acknowledged struggling with substance abuse in the past. “Her death is absolutely tragic and this brings attention to the problem that she had talked about in the past and that certainly is prescription drugs,” Kerlikowske told CBS News. “It affects a huge number of people in this country and has driven deaths to very, very high numbers—well over 15,000.”

He added, “I think it is what we might call a teachable moment when someone passes—particularly as someone as highly thought of and such an incredible performer as Whitney Houston. We can use this as a moment to help people understand. There are millions of Americans that are suffering from this problem…so we can use this as a chance to move forward.”


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