In my last article, Living a High Density Lifestyle, I showed a photo of some medications, with the caption for the photo reading “Drugs are how many people cope with their stressful lives.” And when I talk about drugs, I mean the pharmaceutical kind, not the recreational ones. You know, the stuff you go to the drug store to get.
I’m not anti-drugs. There’s a time and place for them. They can save lives. And sometimes they are necessary.
But the problem is that they should be used as a bridge, to be a stopgap measure while a person is working on getting healthier.
Instead, they are the only thing the great majority of people turn to when they are not feeling well.
As a result, drug use is at an epidemic level. In the U.S., per capita drug use is one dozen. Imagine that: on average, every man, woman and child in the U.S. is taking one dozen medications. And since I’m not taking any, that means someone is picking up the slack for me.
The thing is: if you truly want to be healthy, you need to cut down and then cut out taking any medications.
Because taking medications is one of the surest ways to end up living a very unhealthy lifestyle, and with it, a very unhealthy and unhappy life.
Here’s the most ironic thing: in the U.S. every child is taught the slogan, “Just say no.” And yet, what kind of a lesson is being taught when the use of prescription medication is so rampant? Where’s the “Just say no” of that?
In 2008, overall drug sales in the U.S. were $291.5 billion. Lipitor, a statin used to control cholesterol, was the top-selling drug, followed by the acid reflux medication Nexium, and Plavix, an anti-platelet agent that reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Sales of cardiovascular and gastroenterology medications, as well as ones that regulate central nervous system issues like seizures, depression, pain and Alzheimer’s, accounted for half of all drug sales in 2008.
Another big seller are antidepressants – they were the third most-popular type of drug dispensed in 2008, with $9.5 billion in sales.
It’s a boom time for the depression business, as long as you’re not a psychotherapist – fewer patients are seeing psychotherapists to resolve their mental health problems. Instead, says Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, “there’s a greater emphasis on drugs.”
Over 3.5 billion prescriptions a year are written in the U.S. And as a consequence of all those prescriptions written, here’s no surprise – the 4th leading cause of death is medication side effects.
And the outlook for the future? With prescription volume growing exponentially year after year, it’s not good.
This is great news for the drug industry and insurance companies – drug costs are driving premiums through the roof – but not good for the rest of us.
Drugs have direct, powerful effects on human systems. Most of these effects are negative, and taking multiple drugs increases the risks. Psychologically, the growing attitude that drugs are the answer for every ache and angst is destructive for individuals and societies.
With drug advertising everywhere, what is the message being drummed into us and our children: that for every symptom and sensation the solution is a pill?
The drug industry has been the most profitable industry by far year after year, and they have no ethical problem with the totally unethical act of giving financial incentives to doctors to write prescriptions for their products.
And it goes both ways: many doctors have no ethical problem with the totally unethical act of taking financial incentives from drug companies to write prescriptions for their products.
This is a sad state of affairs, and until it changes, we are going to be stuck in the quagmire of High Density Lifestyle living.
Which means we’ll continue to have people getting sicker, with their medical needs and costs draining the system; health care costs and premiums will continue to skyrocket with less coverage and higher co-pays; and businesses will be strangled with the burden of trying to give employees health care coverage.
The answer is for people to learn how to be healthier, and one of the most important steps in seeing that happen is the reduction and elimination of prescription drug consumption.
Over the next few articles, I’ll be delving into this more.
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