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All-American Addiction

All-American Addiction

We are a nation of addicts. Drug addicts. Don’t think so? Consider this little tidbit; American doctors write more prescriptions than the doctors in every other country in the world combined.

There are a lot of reasons for that. Part of it rests with us, the patients. We are the most impatient patients in the world – we want whatever is wrong to be cleared up RIGHT NOW and in an as inconvenient means as possible. If we can pop a pill and put our medical issues and bodily discomforts to rest, more the better.

Certainly, there are things that require drugs. There are conditions in which our survival depends on them. But do we really need all the prescription drugs we are gobbling down right now? Big Pharma thinks so. In fact, Big Pharma’s survival depends on us being addicted to prescriptions. They spend billions on research and development and marketing. They make us feel like we need Ambien to sleep, Claritin to breathe and Viagra to….well, you know.

That’s not to say that every drug that hits the market is superfluous. Many of them have important uses that help millions not only in this country but everywhere else overcome temporary medical issues or live with permanent ones. Nobody is saying that the world needs less insulin. HOWEVER, it is true that our lifestyle has a lot to do with our health.

We are, as a nation, as anxiety-ridden as any on the planet. Our focus is on work and productivity more and more and less and less on living. As a nation we have less free time and less leisure time than most industrialized nations and studies show we have far more stress than most. As a nation we have always been taught that achievement is the measure of a successful life and so we go balls-out to get it often at the expense of family and health.

Time has become an issue. We have so little of it, or we think we do. We value convenience and speed over everything; fast food and pre-prepared food has become staples in most households. When we do cook, we are making things from cans and bottles. Fresh produce and meat are expensive so those with less disposable income are forced to eat more unhealthy foods. The preservatives and overabundance of salt and sugar are like toxins in our system, further eroding our health. While there are those who work out and take care of their bodies, the vast majority of us don’t – at least, not often enough.

There is a happy medium folks. We don’t have to obsessively work out for hours every day but if we can take half an hour walking, riding a bike or swimming rather than sitting on our tush surfing the Internet the health benefits are enormous. If we spend an hour preparing and eating a meal rather than swinging by the drive-thru lane at Burger King our bodies will benefit. And for all the time we don’t have, how much of it is really spent on critical things? Watching TV and surfing the net are both ways of blowing off steam but for the most part we don’t use either one wisely or in moderation. I’m certainly guilty of that myself.

Yes, Big Pharma certainly has a measure of blame in our over-dependence on prescription drugs. They do influence our doctors to prescribe first and ask questions later. This has led to a deadly situation that kills people on a regular basis. Part of the problem is that doctors don’t really know what their colleagues are doing. You go to one specialist who prescribes you one thing, you go to another who prescribes you another that may not necessarily play well with the first. I am frankly amazed that there isn’t a Medical Net, a network that links all doctors and can bring up every patient and what their other doctors are doing and prescribing and that every doctor can access. It could also give doctors information on drugs and how they interact with other drugs so that prescriptions could be made with better judgment. I think the benefits of such a network would outweigh the potential drawbacks and personally I believe something like that would save lives but the entire medical profession would have to buy into it.

At the end of the day, it is our own responsibility what we put into our bodies from the food that we eat down to the drugs that we take. It behooves us all to question the necessity of every drug we take from sleeping aids to pain killers. When a doctor wants to prescribe you something, question it. Ask what the drug will do for you, and how it might interact with other drugs you might already be taking. Find out how it interacts with alcohol if you drink, and what the side-effects might be. Don’t blindly take anything that you are prescribed just because a doctor says you should – doctors are human as well and not every decision they make are always the right ones. It is up to you to be your doctor’s teammate in your healthcare.

My mom, a registered nurse who worked almost 50 years in the field (off and on) is fond of saying that nearly every prescription drug on the planet is a poison; it’s not meant to be in your system. She’s quite right – while they may not necessarily be toxins in and of themselves, they can certainly become toxic over time.

We are a drug culture. The recent baseball steroid suspensions of Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun confirm that. Athletes look to drugs to give them an edge. Students look to drugs to allow them to stay up and study longer. We take drugs for recreational use. We use drugs to help us sleep and drugs to stay awake. We use drugs to aid our sex life and drugs to regulate our moods. We even take drugs to deal with the effects of other drugs.

At some point we need to stop. We need to look at our attitudes towards drugs both legal and otherwise and re-evaluate them. Nature has been wise enough to give us everything we need to have a good life. Yes, sometimes nature also gives us obstacles in which drugs become a necessary key to our survival but for the most part we are fully capable of doing without a lot of the drugs we take. If we spent as much time taking care of ourselves as we do wasting it on frivolous things, we’d cut our medical and prescription drug bills by a significant amount. As with most things, we have the ability to make changes ourselves that if done in numbers can make an enormous positive change in all of our lives. We just have to take the responsibility to do so but sadly an addiction to responsibility is not one our nation possesses.


One Response

  1. Big Pharma is part of the problem we face in dealing with illness aside from hospitals doctors and insurance. We pay the highest price for medical care in the world and are way down on the list of effetiveness.Doctors by their nature need to be arrogant in some measure , errors are not admitted.Tests are repeated because they do not talk with each other enough, and are part of the cost of medicine. Only recently here in Florida have they computerized so theoretically access to information could be shared but then as always dissenters need to bring up privacy and other issues and so not much is done. My pharmacy teacher said we should think twice before putting an aspirin in our mouths because all drugs are toxins and the theory is a little toxin can cure. Drugs today are put on the market and a few years later are recalled. Drugs do save lives but marketing drugs to the populace is not right.For one thing, it adds to the cost of drugs and for another the populace is vulnerable to suggestion,which of course is why they do it.

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