Friday, October 13, 2006

Pill Popper, M.D.

Once again, the Blogger community has given me inspiration and solace in the fact that I am neither alone in my thoughts nor stuck in the mire of commonality. As happened last week, there are great revelations that occur when we think and share ideas. Again today.

When I got to item number 12 of yesterday's Thursday Thirteen, I started thinking about the decision I made to relieve myself of the burden of Paxil. In addition to the constant yawning, tiredness and general malaise I found myself in, I couldn't get it up.

What good is feeling good if I can't follow through? Of course, it would have been made better with a healthy dose of Viagra. The fatigue could have been cured with a little change in medication, but the ensuing increase in energy may have required a little Lunestra. To cure one particular ill, I could have found myself taking at least three different medications. The pharmaceutical industry would love me for it.

After reading kara's post of a Bill Maher essay today, I started thinking that maybe I'm not the only one who feels like America is falling under the influence of the drug companies - sick mind notwithstanding.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. The number had gotten up to 225, and with a lousy family history, my doctor threatened to put me on Lipitor if I couldn't get the number to some acceptable level. Vigorous exercise wasn't doing it, so I turned to the local vitamin shop for an answer.

Every day, I take 1200mg of something called Red Yeast Rice, as well as Omega3 fish oil tablets, folic acid and a multi-vitamin pack that could choke a pony. Combined with my exercise program, the number got to 156 in less than six months. Common Americans would have relented to the sofa and the safety of Pfizer's miracle drug, but for those of us who would rather make our own path in life, the simple answer was not the right one. The vitamins cost me more than my prescription plan would for the Lipitor, but my self-respect is worth more than the money I would save. So, I say, "Pfuck you Pfizer", I'll do it myself.

I read a statistic in the newspaper that said more than 40% of American adults are taking at least one prescription medication. If you think about it, it isn't too hard to imagine. Arthritis, cholesterol, depression, high blood pressure, anxiety and good old impotence probably account for most of it. There are medications to keep people from smoking, drinking, eating and insomnia too. As has been said here before, we are a fat, lazy country of convenience; and nothing is more convenient than a pill.

When junior sees mom and dad popping the meds to escape the reality of having shitty kids, lots of bills, a lousy job and no place to go; they see it as the perfect solution. When they are old enough to sign themselves out of school because their teachers are jackasses, the prescriptions for ADD (and it's older cousin ADHD) start flying. Keep the kids medicated. Mom and dad will be less miserable if the kids are so doped up that they can't see how miserable mom and dad are. The circle of life, brought to you by Merck.

My version of reality came when I realized that my feeling lousy was the result of the woman in my life making me feel like a pile of crap, regardless of my level of involvement in the relationship. My intital answer was to blame myself and seek the appropriate medication. You can't blame me for falling prey to the constant advertising and reassurance that my problems must be addressed through 10 milligram doses of instant gratification. When the gratification was neither instant nor acceptable, I decided that the pills didn't either cause or correct the problem. Since there was no pill for BITCH, I quickly realized the real issue and have since found peace with myself; no thanks to pharmaceuticals.

Granted, there are legitimate illnesses that require medication, but we have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of advertising done for prescription drugs over the last five years. Each one uses the tag line, "Ask your doctor if [drug] is right for you." Ask my doctor? Isn't it his job to tell me? The drug companies have figured out the perfect marketing campaign:

Nothing works better than a persuasive TV ad. Add to it the fact that doctors are barraged with salespeople from the drug companies, pushing their medications. When Mrs. Miserable comes in and starts yakking about her shitty kids and her lousy job, Doc Holliday comes to the first logical conclusion: TAKE A PILL. She can't kill the kids. If she does, the drug company loses another customer. The logical solution is some anti-depressant, because the pill will fix the shitty kids and the lousy job. Even if it doesn't, she'll take it long enough to believe that it does.

The cure for what you think ails you doesn't come from the pharmacy. Ask your doctor. If he tells you it does, maybe you need to ask another one.
Dennis Shea, a professor at Pennsylvania State University's college of health and human development, found mixed news in the report.
"Certainly, in the 1990s there were lots of advances in being better able to target drugs to conditions," he said. "But there is that danger that people are overmedicating . . . taking so many medications that they can interact, make one ineffective or cause harm."
And, he added, "Americans seem to look for that magic pill, don't they?" In many cases the patients pressure physicians: " 'Give me the pill, I don't want to change my diet, I don't want to exercise.' It is an easy way out but may not be as effective," he said.
The benefits of improved diet and exercise can extend beyond any single ailment, he added.


Kate Michele said...

When I was first diagnosed with my FM, I was on about ten different pills...thats right 10!!

Through the years and with the help of physical thearpy I weaned down to 2.

However a few months back I decided I had enough, as i'm sure my liver has too. I went off all my meds, started a new diet plan, and I'm feeling pretty good.

There are times, when the FM is too unbearable and I need to take some meds, but for the most part physical thearpy has help combined with eating!! Something the pills wouldn't allow me to do. So of course I was feeling worse ON the pills cause I couldn't eat a decent meal...I was eating like a bird....bringing on more problems and you guessed it...more pills!!!

Pam said...

My ILS take every med under the sun. And mix them with alcohol. Not good. They will take something for everything like it's bad to feel anything. Some conditions serve a purpose for our bodies and should not be medicated away. Like low grade fevers.

Zero medications here. Of course, I took the pill (birth control, that is) for many years but not even taking that now.

kara said...


i can't even begin to count the number of people that i talked to at the bar over the 10 years that i worked there that were on some sort of med for psychological dis-ease. it became a passion of mine, to learn all i could on the matter.

this culture (and western medicine) does everything but get to the root of the problem. i liken it to slapping a band aid on an arm that needs to be amputated. someone very close to me has just been recently put on 4 different meds for anxiety and depression. there is no talk therapy, but once a month. and she's told me that she can call her doc and tell him what needs adjusting. she isn't the same anymore. the change has been drastic and dramatic. and the pills aren't working, still, after several months.

the industry, along with the compliance of the docs that get HUGE kick backs from insurance companies and reps are using people as guinea pigs. they have no idea. and while there are people that seriuosly have a chemical imbalance - there are thousands more in which an imbalance is being created just by taking the drugs.

my gut is that people are having an organic reaction to how messed up and empty our culture is, and it's manifesting itself through the psyche. our bodies have an amazing way of letting us know when we aren't paying attention to something that we need to. if we only listen.

years ago, i waited on a psychiatric pharmicist. he'd been in the biz for 30 years. we had a great talk. i eventually told him that what i wanted to do in life might very well put him out of work. he said that someone needed to - it had gotten out of hand. he told me that it was really interesting around the time that parents started questioning putting their kids on meds for a.d.d. - suddenly there was a new ailment plaguing america - ADULT a.d.d. no lie. he said he'd seen some shit go down in his time, but that rattled him to the bone.

i have to stop now. i could write a thesis in your comment box. sorry if i got too carried away - your post really hit home. :) check out this guy:

this film is pretty cool, too:

and thanks for writing this!

Tug said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Vitamins, glass of red wine, I'm good. ;-) Thanks for stopping by again, & I forgot to mention on the TT...Blues Brothers? AWESOME. I need to buy it; can't believe I don't own it yet.

Tug said...

P.S. EAGLES? Seriously? heh heh...

kara said...

oh! almost forgot! found the lyric i asked you about. song was put out by lazyboy a few years back -

"You know we have more prescription drugs now.
Every commercial that comes on TV is a prescription drug ad.
I can't watch TV for four minutes without thinking I have five serious diseases.
Like: "Do you ever wake up tired in the morning?"
Oh my god I have this, write this down. Whatever it is, I have it.
Half the time I don't even know what the commercial is:
people running in fields or flying kites or swimming in the ocean.
I'm like that is the greatest disease ever. How do you get that?
That disease comes with a hot chick and a puppy."

kara said...

ah, sheesh. you've inspired my next post. well, you and joseph campbell - you're in good company. :) stay tuned.

kimmyk said...

I don't know how many times patients will come in demanding a pill to fix what ails them when half the time if they would watch what they eat, get out there and walk a little bit and lay off the bad shit how much better they'd be. But they don't because so and so down in the grocery store told them they were on the cure all and well now they want some.

What pisses me off more is parents who shove pills down thier kids throat thinking they have ADD or ADHD without giving them some sort of activity to do. Sitting down in front of a tv and expecting them to be still and quiet isn't going to cut it.

That drives me insane most of all.

My mom did the whole Red Rice Yeast along with CQ10 and her cholesterol dropped. She also started eating oatmeal. She did Lipitor-got horrible leg cramps from it and stopped.

Drug companies amaze me. Gazillion dollar markets out there preying on the needy.

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