Tuesday 20 September 2011

This is my opinion, what’s yours?

For as long as I can remember I have hated drugs.
Hard core illegal ones, legally prescribed ones and even the more innocuous ‘over the counter’ ones.

We all see the ravages of drug abuse and if you live in an inner city area like me, you are reminded of this daily.  I get off the tram on occasion and see police searching people looking for drugs or paramedics tending to an injured person lying in the gutter. No, it's not really palatable but it's a fact even in this most liveable city in the world.

However, while illegal drugs are one thing it's the legally prescribed drugs and their abuse that terrifies me the most.

My fear of prescribed medication started when I was about 10 and my  grandmother was given some new pills by a doctor who was filling in for her regular practitioner. After she took the pills for a couple of days she started to hallucinate and shake uncontrollably and had to be hospitalised. The doctor had given her the wrong medication.
It scared the hell out of me.

So much so it takes a lot tooing and froing for me to take anything whether it is a cold tablet or something stronger. It is a last resort only.

For ten years I saw my father take a cocktail of drugs, one pill after another, mostly prescribed to counteract the side effects of an earlier prescribed drug.  
But just like my grandmother and my father thought, the medical profession knows best. Right?

I wonder. I really do.
A couple of years ago my sister was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at way too young an age. We have recently learnt that she acquired this disease as a direct result of the prolonged use of another prescribed drug she has taken for another illness she has. Just bad luck the doctor said. Was she warned ever? No, but maybe there was a warning on the small print somewhere.

Then in the last 12 months the young adult son of one of my friends became addicted to his prescribed drugs and developed horrific side effects. He was feeling anxious so his doctor’s immediate course of action was to prescribe antidepressants, anxiety drugs and sleeping tablets. One of the side effects of one of the drugs, which no doubt was written in small print on the leaflet, was that he may suffer from addictions. Well sure enough he was one of the unlucky few that, as a direct result of taking this drug, he became addicted not only to the drugs but also to gambling and alcohol and goodness knows what else. He had absolutely no prior history of addiction. It took a long time to establish and then accept the link between the drug and his other addictions. And then an even longer time to try and get him off the drugs that he had become addicted to and to start treating the real causes of his anxiety.
I could go on with horrific examples just like these as they are littered everywhere. And I mean everywhere.  But somehow the side effects and damage from taking legally prescribed drugs is more palatable for some reason. How bad could they be when we are taking them for our health and well being. Right?

Of course it goes without saying that there are a lot of people who have to take medication in order to live quality lives or in fact, live a life. I get that.
However, there are a lot of people who take medication to either mask symptoms with no real regard for the primary causes of their illnesses or those whose quality of life completely diminishes.

Yesterday I watched a documentary called Cut, Poison, Burn which has just reignited my loathing for drugs and drug companies even more so.
It clearly outlines many reasons for the MASSIVE failure on the war on cancer. The film follows the struggles of Jim and Donna Navarro, whose young son is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. The conventional treatment methods, which included potent chemotherapy drugs and radiation, offered virtually no hope. Even if their son survived the treatment, side effects included hearing loss, brain damage, cumulative reduction in IQ and other cancers, just to name a few.

Cut, Poison, Burn is available for viewing on Vimeo for free only up until September 24 and I have posted it below. Given two out of three women and one out of two men will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, it is relevant to us all.
I know that when we get sick we often don’t get a choice in our health care for many reasons but we need to be as informed and educated as we can about what we are being prescribed and our treatment. It’s scary, not palatable, not nice and easier to bury our heads in the sand sometimes but quality of life is incredibly precious and worth fighting for wouldn’t you say?

Our health or our lack of health results in BIG BUSINESS for some. Could keeping people sick be more profitable then keeping us well? Unfortunately, I think so.

What do you think?

Cut Poison Burn from Nehst Studios.


  1. Medical diagnosis has guessing involved and doctors are not all at the same level. I agree with your view to the point of avoiding doctor visits. Big Pharma in the US is allowed to push their drugs directly with TV ads. I recently posted my version of a drug ad.
    If the side effects are worse than the condition why take it?
    Hey nice to read a fresh post up here.

  2. Every single sentence you wrote is unflinchingly true and accurate Lilly.

    Drugs often create more of a problem than they solve, prescription or recreation.

    None are truly safe.
    They are short cuts or 'surface fixes' to dong the harder work of living a healthy life - be it emotional or physical.

    And I'm 100% with you on Cancer. Thanks for sharing the video info..

    I think the whole oncology profession is in it for the business of $$.

    Despite all the years of medical school, etc., they don't care/don't know and don't have the integrity to admit they are doing very little good and a lot of harm.

    I see Patrick Swayze and Farrah Fawcett as prime examples of being lied to (given false hope) and jerked around (spend thousands upon thosands of dollars) and have very little quality time duyring that debacle -- only to die anyway.

    We only know so much in medicine, and it isn't enough. Yet the prescriptions and the treatments are given out without thought of repercussion, and an enormous avoidance of responsibility for the damage that can be caused.

    Here 'take this'. Never mind that it conflicts with 'that'. The just take 'x' also. It is appalling.

    I started takinng Phentermine yesterday, and you'll find out about it when you read my post. I almost feel embarrassed about it now.

  3. I agree with everything you say. I recently was prescribed an iron supplement after my surgery that was only available on special order. Fortunately it was a weekend and the pharmacist told me to take the over the counter strength and call the doctor on Monday. He told us strong doses of iron like that come with side effects. When I heard 'side effects', I didn't even bother calling the doctor that Monday. My blood count returned to normal anyway. Whew!

    My lesson learned is not to blindly fill new prescriptions, to do my own research first and try to make a smart decision.

  4. There is so much truth to what you say, but I think many drugs ~~ antibiotics for example, are lifesavers. I work for the CDC, and tuberculosis, which used to be 100% fatal, is now 100% curable with drugs like ethambutol, rifampin, pyrazinamide and isoniazid. They do have side effects, but they are tolerable.

    I think mind-altering drugs, however, are prescribed too freely, and they are addictive. I once went through a depression after my mother died. I was prescribed anti-depressants, and they made me extremely ill. I flushed them down the toilet, and got better on my own.

  5. @ Betty - thanks for your comment I like to find out what others think especially in different parts of the world. I agree I think we have to bite the bullet and really work out what is best for us and be fully aware of the risks.

    @ Lisleman - yes its been a while since I wrote a serious post anyway. doctors are human beings and can make mistakes I agree. Second and even third opinions are critical too. I just do not like the fact that the first call of action often is to take medication when we should be trying every other thing like diet and exercise or whatever first. Sure if nothing works then medication is all we can do to control something or other but you have to expect side effects and weigh it all up. We can't avoid doctors though as we need them. I shall go and have a look at your post - I recall seeing all the ads perhaps ten years ago when living in LA. We don't have that here really unless its a new diet pill or something.

  6. @ Cinderella - thank you, you always write such interesting comments! sometimes we have no choice but to accept what doctors tell us and it takes a leap of faith. But I so agree with you we have to take care of ourselves in every way possible first. The drugs will only ever be a band aid measure in a large proprtion of cases and a life saver in others. There is a place for drugs that goes without saying just not in the large quantities we see now. I shall come over and see what you have been up to.

    @ Christine - you in fact are an inspiration to me as far as your health goes. You are always well infomred and work at it. I am so glad you have recovered well and didnt have to take anything unecessary to get back to full health. Your body did it for you. Sounds like you have a good pharmacist too (and no doubt you saved some $ at the same time).

    @ Jo - thanks for your comments and you are so right there is a place for medication and it is life saving. I am with you on the mind-altering drugs. Five years ago after much resistance, I was prescribed exactly what the young guy in my post was given. Anyone who has read my blog awhile knows that I went through somethign horrific then. I took the AD for a short while and just couldnt sleep. Then I started taking sleeping tablets and quickly became addicted to those. I couldnt sleep without them. After a couple of months, I just had to get rid of the lot of them. Not for me. I am not saying they are not useful for some people with serious depression just not everyone. They are doled out if people mention they are off colour or a little sad. I had to deal with my grief a different way and learnt that there are times in life its ok to be sad and upset and depressed when something bad has happened. They are quite scary what they do. Oh and by the way Jo and Christine, my fabulous doctor is Canadian (Aussie husband) - she is brilliant!!!

  7. One of my siblings works for a large pharma. company and there is so much I could say but will not. Lets say some doctors get handsomely rewarded because of the drugs they prescribe and its not our good health they are celebrating. A trillion pound industry and it only remains that way because of consumption. Its bloody shocking. We need to be informed and well read about all this stuff rather than turning blind eyes and just accepting what we get told and what we put in our mouths. Yeah, and we all probably believed what good old Rupert Murdoch wrote in his newspapers too before it all started to unravel. We have to take back control of our own lives as best we can and research, research, research before we accept what anyone tells us.

  8. In total agreement! Same reason I try not to visit the dentist nor the car mechanic. Just don't trust them.

    This is quite lengthy but if you have the time, it's worth watching. There's part 2 - 5 too.

  9. Dear Lilly,
    I am very much like you ... would have to be really ill to take anything at all. I do take one medication .. for hypertension. I don't even like taking that, but have a family history that suggests it's good for me to keep my BP down. I had been taking a statin for high cholesterol until I began researching all of the side effects ... like higher glucose readings and dementia links. I took myself off the drug. During the last four months of my mother's life, I removed all of her medications (discussed with doctor) ... she was actually much better off without them. I won't take anything for a cold unless I can tell it has morphed into a bronchial infection .... so there you have it my dear!

  10. There is a place for drugs but there are some doctors who hand out some drugs like candy. I agree do your research and beware, doctors are running businesses as are the big drug companies. We have the control and we should not just accept what we are told.

  11. @ Sarah - yes I sued to work with a guy whose wife was a drug company rep. Interesting stories and she it is a wealthy career for some.

    @ Young Werther - no you are just paranoid lol. But true, every profession has their good and bad but for some reason we are more accepting of what someone in the medical profession tells us. They are doing a job like anyone else and can get it wrong.

    @ Helen - sound slike you are very sensible - not that that surprises me. I wish i had done the same with my Dad really. He used to have terrible nightmares too and I am sure it was from the quantity of drugs he was on. Makes me sad really and I will not go down that path if I can avoid it unless there is absolutely no choice whatsoever. Thanks for your comment.

    @ Magee - true, we do have the control when all is said and done, we just have to be informed and pretty assertive when dealing with teh medical profession.

  12. Tremendously important post, Lilly. I couldn't swallow pills as a child and used to will myself to get better. I don't take over-the-counter medicines now. My sister, who has lupus, has had her life extended by the use of some drugs but these drugs have had serious side effects that are now wreaking havoc on her body.
    I am also struck by all of the drug advertisements on TV and the quickly read list of possible side effects (which sometimes include death, diarrhea, etc.) often times they seem worst than the illness itself. Finally, there's the pushing of a normal range of behaviors - like shywness - into something that needs medication.
    Drugs are being pushed - both the legal and illegal ones. We don't see the same push with exercise, laughter, dancing, walking in nature, talking to one another, sitting down to a meal ('cause the commercials keep telling us that we're too busy to cook).
    Thanks for this post. We have to fight against medicine as an automatic solution and question,question, question. Medicine should be one of the last resorts not the first one.
    As I age, I've decided to live with certain discomfort. I intend to medicate once my arthritis is truly advanced. In the meantime, I keep moving because it does help.

  13. I feel medicine , per se, isnt bad when used intelligently, after a lot of thought, and in a conservative way, and after being totally aware of side effects and stuff.

    But today, the human body is being treated disrespectfully, like a machine; overoiled somewhere, banged up somewhere else, and most of the time with half knowledge about it.

    In my childhood, psychotropic meds were unknown, except when people had schizophrenia and stuff. Today, these are being prescribed at the drop of a hat. For things like depression and anxiety. Because people dont have time as they are busy coming up in the world. And even then very few patients are told that you have to be weaned off those in a slow way, and not suddenly stopped.

    I totally agree with this post of yours.

  14. @ Can Can - thanks for your comment I always love to hear what you think. I agree that it is when we get to a certain age that we start to think about these things moreso. And yes, the list of side effects is horrific and I guess it becomes a balancing act. And the BEST part of yur comment was that there are so many things we should be doing to see if it improves our health before we even think about pills. Treat the cause not the symptoms. Thanks again.

    @ Ugich - thanks for your comment too. You are so right we do not treat our bodies very well at all anymore. But I guess we like quick fixes too. We want instant cures for things as opposed to working at them in a more natural way. Its interesting and I often wonder if something ever bad happned to my health then what course I will take. a considered one I hope regardless of the pressure to make quick decisions.

  15. Bless you Lilly for writing such an important blog post which needs to be read by millions!
    AND that documentary "Cut Poison Burn" should be shown on PRIME TIME television over and over again.

    So many people are uninformed about the side affects of drugs and so many doctors think they are GOD and we believe them.

    This quote from one of the doctors really hit home:
    "Doctors are taught to treat in medical school and PAID to treat in practise. We don't get taught prevention and we don't get paid to prevent, so the whole system is topsy turby".

    It is certainly an industry based on wealth not health!

    Take care my dear friend, keep shining and keeping the bastards honest!

    Peggy xxxxxx

  16. @ Peggy - thank you so much for your comment and I am so glad you had a look at the video too. I found it fascinating and it also showed how ignorant I am. It's scary we accept so much really and something we all have or will have to deal with too.

  17. That video is very confronting and is something everyone should watch, scary stuff.

  18. Lilly, you wonderful person you! Thank you for your visit. I've been running around crazy trying to get this, that and everything done and you pop up and make me stop to take a breather and cheer me up. Thank you, thank you.

  19. @ Kay, pleasure my dear. Good trip to you.

  20. Can you still see the video now its past the 24th?

  21. Can't view the video, but I know most of what is in it and I AGREE 100% with you and your opinion!


Thanks for your comments.