Tuesday, 11 August 2009
So Many Chemicals in the Air
And they are getting trickier and trickier to balance.
Medications such as Xanax, Demerol (pethedine), OxyContin and now Diprivan are hot media topics since the recent deaths of several celebrities including Michael Jackson.
The fact that people are dying from cocktails of prescribed medications doesn't shock me at all. I think it's far more common than we think. In Australia, about 18 million legal prescriptions are written each year to treat pain, anxiety and sleep disorders. That’s almost one prescription for every Australian.
Even though I hate taking any medication, even vitamin pills, I once had a close relationship with sleeping pills for a short while. It showed me just how easily addiction can take hold.
I was traumatised after leaving a violent relationship. Every time I closed my eyes to go to sleep I would have flashbacks. I was sleep deprived and desperate. I went to a doctor looking for help. In minutes, she prescribed sleeping tablets and antidepressants and sent me on my way.
I threw away the antidepressant prescription and filled the sleeping pill prescription instead.
They worked. So I kept taking them, increasing the dose as I went. After some weeks, I realised I was 'hooked', so I threw the tablets away.
Sleep is often at the hungry heart of the drug beast and it's something to watch out for in those around you.
The doctor had been quick to give me drugs to mask my problem but not so quick to help me deal with the root cause of my pain. While there is a very obvious and legitimate place for prescribed drugs they should never be used as band aid measures for what truly ails us.
I've no idea just how much of the current level of prescriptions handed out is patient driven as opposed to doctor driven . However, it's no surprise that the system that administers to the sick also acts to prop up the sickness of addiction. And like the parallel universe of street dealing, once addicted, the prescription addict has to work hard to find an obliging prescriber.
Many years ago, I discovered my next door neighbour was a pethidine addict. The shame of it all was that she also happened to be looking after my baby daughter while I worked. And of course her problem was something she wouldn't even admit to herself let alone to me.
She was a beautiful woman, with a gorgeous and seemingly happy family. She just had this teensy little problem...that gradually took over her life.
Thank goodness, it didn't take me long to discover her secret.
One day she asked if I would take her to the dentist as she had a toothache. She then said the dentist would not treat her as she had an abscess and she needed to go to a doctor to get antibiotics. Four doctors later, she finally got what she was looking for. Demerol (pethidine). She just shopped around doctors and dentists, with different stories, until she found one willing to give her what she wanted.
I don't judge the addicts but I do judge the many 'enablers' who benefit in some way from the sale of prescription drugs.
When it comes to our health we need to make sure we understand exactly what we are putting into our bodies. Drugs of any description are serious business. Our health and the quality of our life are serious business. However, we also need to be aware that for some parties, keeping people ill and addicted is also serious business.
Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that doctors are running businesses and some are not as ethical as they should be. We also lose sight of the fact that pharmaceutical company advertising is promoting illness as opposed just the drugs. More and more healthy people are now being defined as 'sick.' The strategies have many components — the most visible being TV and newspaper ads that make us think that our ailments and inconveniences are the signs and symptoms of genuine medical conditions. A sore stomach is “Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” a mild sexual difficulty is “Female Sexual Dysfunction,” and overactive grown-ups now have “Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.”
Be alert not alarmed. And for those people who are interested in reading about the relationship between drug companies and the medical profession, read this or this. It's a fascinating business which sometimes seems to focus more on the money to be made than the quality of human life.
Categories: My Opinion