Thursday, July 5, 2012

Prescription to Happiness

America loves our pharmaceuticals. Magic pills that instantly give us better living conditions, help us lose weight, perform sexually when we're past the age we probably should, and knock us out at night.

The thing I don't understand is literally thousands of years worth of humans were able to get by without a prescription to Prozac or Xanax or Viagra. Did they just deal with life? Were they too busy surviving to worry if they were going to be able to fall asleep at night?

Sure, there are American's that do benefit from Adderall, but for every one person that does truly need it, there are at least three college kids going to their doctor armed with the Wikipedia page of symptoms of ADD to get a prescription. I know this from the all night study sessions.

Go to a psychiatrist and spend a few sessions saying how anxious you are, and its not hard to find someone that will give you Xanax. You start feeling better, and the psychiatrist feels like they've made progress. Combine that with an anti-depressant and you should be the happiest person in the country. (A Harvard study shows a 400% increase in anti-depressant use between 1994 and 2008.)

Ambien is the one that baffles me the most. Sallie was prescribed some after her surgery and it was the first time I had heard of the drug. That makes sense, she was given  few weeks worth of pills because she was in pain from surgery. It helped her sleep. 

However, I know many people that have a prescription only because they say they can't sleep. I'd never taken an Ambien and just sort of assumed it made you feel tired. Well, when I went in for surgery, I had 3 separate doctors say they really didn't like to prescribe Ambien. All of them said that the potential risk was incredibly high compared to the small benefit of an almost dreamless night of sleep. They told me I could lose hours of my life, not know if I'm asleep or awake, and generally get myself in trouble in this zombie state.

When 3 doctors are hesitant to prescribe a small dosage of the drug for a 215 lb male, there's probably enough reason to take a second look at the drug. 

I guess I'm a little biased. I'm not one that goes to the doctor unless I really need to. I don't get sick. And I don't have crippling depression or anxiety. At the same time though, I see the pill abuse all around me. It's just a way to be bombed out of your mind in a socially acceptable way for a lot of people. It's only going to get worse, America is addicted to these pills, and as long as their prescription is refilled, they will continue to be a cash flow for these pharmaceutical companies.