Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Drugs are everywhere

Is everybody on drugs?

If there is any good to emerge from the hype surrounding Michael Jackson's death, it is my hope that it could cause people to wake up about drugs. I don't mean illegal drugs. That is another discussion altogether. I refer to prescription drugs. How many pills do you take every day? And do you really need them? Do they interact with other pills you take, which could cause more harm than good? How many times do you visit a doctor and walk out with a new prescription? How many times have you asked your physician about a drug you saw on television?

Isn't it time to start looking into our own medicine cabinets and kitchen cabinets? Maybe we should consider whether our doctors care more about pushing pills and masking our symptoms than curing what ails us. If there is more of an interest to satisfy the bottom line of pharmaceutical companies which also enriches the doctor at our expense, isn't it time to find a new physician?

If Michael Jackson's death wasn't a wake-up call, how about the reports that our oceans and lakes and streams are being polluted by discarded pharmaceuticals. Read one of many examples here. Or what about the potential for a worldwide pandemic spread by birds that could build an immunity to the influenza-fighting Tamiflu, found in river water? Read story here.

It seems to me the pervasiveness of drugs in today's culture is conducive to addiction and worse. Drugs are meant to cure our ills, but how many of us are becoming ill because of them? And how many of us are exposed to them even if we don't physically put them into our bodies?

Drug pushers used to be identifiable as thugs and unsavory characters hanging around street corners. Now drug pushers are attractive actors and actresses who sell everything from a cure for male sexual dysfunction, altering a female's reproductive cycle, and mood-enhancement. Their message fills our television and computer screens on a regular basis, one after another with their almost subliminal messages. Frankly I'm sick of it. This stuff needs to be taken off the air. Congress is considering a bill to tax the drug ads, but it is being fought by TV networks. Read more.

What is happening today is far different from the 60-second Alka-Seltzer commercials decades ago where Speedy, a cute little character, advertised a substance to make our tummies feel better. That commercial was helpful. Today, the commercials can be harmful as people attempt to self-medicate when they have no idea what they are doing. Have you noticed that during the lengthy commercials, there are a few seconds devoted to potential side effects? Those few seconds are tantamount to reading the fine print. It is there, but who notices?

Just to be fair, I will provide full disclosure of my bias. When I was a small child, my mother and father tried to get me to take a daily multi-vitamin. I refused. Taking the tiny round, candy-coated pill was probably good for me, but I wanted no part of it. I remember it was quite a struggle, for which I finally succumbed. I now take them only occasionally. I still hate taking pills.

To get a much less biased view, check out and weigh into this informational link for the non-profit organization http://prescriptiondrugs.procon.org/