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?