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Does Modern Psychiatry Produce Drug Addicts? Possibly…

psychiatry

Nowadays, especially within the United States, you would be hard-pressed not to see, on a daily basis, at least two to five advertisements for a pharmaceutical drug on a daily basis. A study conducted on the frequency of pharmaceutical commercials found that the average American will watch 30 hours of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising each year.

While sitting back and relaxing after a long day, I decided to throw on the television and veg out with mindless programming. Within two minutes of turning on the TV, a pharmaceutical advertisement came on. The commercial began with “Do you sometimes laugh at inappropriate times? Do you uncontrollably cry or sometimes express the wrong emotion for a given situation…?” This actually has a name. It’s called “Pseudobulbar Affect.” Jeez…

“Do you have ups and downs in life? Do you have energy and then become extraordinarily tired? Do you find yourself depressed for no reason and then experience a surge in energy? Does your antidepressant alone not work? Abilify may be for you…”

That’s when it hit me…pharmaceutical companies are now creating and marketing drugs to take away those emotions which make us human. This isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that we, as consumers, want this stuff. We no longer live in a society where if you are depressed, you seek real help for the source of your depression.  For example if you’re overweight you would see a nutritionist or physical trainer or if you are a drug addict, you would go into treatment for substance abuse.  Why would you, when you can just pop some magic pill that fixes everything? Here’s an interesting article written by Linda Caroll of NBC News: http://www.today.com/health/pill-nation-are-we-too-reliant-prescription-meds-1C9291856

I personally come from three generations of physicians. I remember when I was growing up, we had a large cabinet above the oven in our kitchen that housed close to 130 different bottles and samples of medications. To me, having a makeshift pharmacy in your house was normal. We probably had a medication for any and every possible ailment plus a host of narcotic medications. When I would have a really bad “tummy ache” as young children often experience, my parents would give me a dose of Phenobarbital and Belladonna. I love my family, but that was ridiculous.

At the age of 12, I had a common pre-teenage anxiety about being accepted and liked by my peers, fitting in and being “cool.” However my doctor apparently didn’t agree with how normal this was, so I was prescribed 2mg of Alprazolam (Xanax ), 1mg before school and 1mg after. The next year at school my teachers expressed concern that I seemed to have a short attention span and day dreamed a lot. Wow, shocking since at that point I was taking hard core narcotic anxiety meds before school. Bring on the ADD diagnosis. Now add Ritalin to the Xanax and anti-depressants. I was also diagnosed as being obsessive – compulsive by the way. So at that point, at 14 years old, I was legally speed balling on a daily basis.

Fast forward to my college days. I’m now taking anti-depressants, atypical antipsychotics, adderall and benzodiazepines. All prescribed by my physician. I was pretty doped up, commonly describing it as feeling “zombified.” After being introduced to illegal drugs as most university students are, I was off and running with an uncontained cocaine addiction that led me down a path of destruction I’d rather not discuss.

Presently, I do not take any medications. I’m not addicted to drugs either. The question in my mind was, did the constant drugging on psychiatric medications create the perfect storm? My guess is that being medicated from a young age helped but there’s a bit more to it. When you’re young and impressionable and a medical professional sits directly across from you and informs you that there is something wrong with you, it cuts very deeply.

A lot of our youth today are over – medicated, over – diagnosed and are told they aren’t “normal.” The search of a drug addict is trying to achieve “normal” so they feel “normal.” Ask any drug addict when they last felt “normal” and they’d find it difficult to recount any point in the past where they felt like “other people do.” Drug addicts use drugs to solve a problem. Low self-esteem, low self-confidence, anxiety, sleep problems, learning difficulties, not fitting in with their peers, etc. become insurmountable problems that need a resolution. What’s the easiest way to get drugs? Well, your family doctor has a prescription pad and a pen ready to go to help you feel better.

The behavior of popping an antidepressant to feel “better” is the same action of a heroin addict doing a shot of heroin to stave off the withdrawals.

Just because your doctor prescribed it and its “legal” doesn’t make it any less of an issue than if you were to snort an 8ball of cocaine every day. You’re taking a drug to solve a problem. Plain and simple.

We as a society need to determine our priorities once again. We need to make informed decisions before not only taking these medications ourselves but before giving them to our children. Hippocrates once said “Let thy food be thy medicine.” Doctors also take the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.” I think we’ve all lost sight of this.

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