March 29, 1998

Take a Pill

I believe that we not only feed the public demand for useless and harmful drugs, but also go far to create that very demand. We educate our patients and their friends to believe that almost every symptom and disease can be benefited by a drug.

Richard Clarke Cabot, 1906

In this day and age, from the moment a child is old enough to watch television, he is told, time and time again, that when anything is wrong he should take a pill. It becomes so embedded in his mind that he isn't even conscious of the fact that he has been brain washed to take drugs for just about everything.

Most kids expect that if they are ill, that they will be given medicine that will make them well. One can't expect a child to know that he would probably get well without medicine. Often, they will be given medicine when they are not ill. I remember when my first child was very small and was not going to sleep. "I can't sleep," she repeated over and over again. In desperation, I filled a spoon with some port wine and told her that it was sleeping medicine. She took it and promptly zonked out. The next evening, she repeated the performance and said that she wanted some sleeping medicine. I realized that I had a problem and refused. "You know, Daddy," she said, "that medicine tasted like wine." She had had the last word. I had been appropriately chastened. I also realized that I had taken the first step toward creating a drug addict. Fortunately, I had also become aware enough to do something about it.

We are a drug culture. However, the only thing that people seem to be concerned about are illegal drugs. No one seems to be aware that the root of the drug problem is in our having brain washed our kids, much as we were brain washed, that the solution to just about any problem is a drug. Those problems range from a mild case of melancholia to a deep suicidal depression.

On just about every program that features a "don't use drugs" message, are many more messages that say that drugs are good for you and you should use them. The socially acceptable drugs include alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and a variety of pain killers, plus a number of so-called "drugs" that do nothing except part you from some money. Included are a number of drugs that cannot be legally obtained without a doctor's prescription.

The only time that I know of when the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) took action was when Alka Seltzer (active ingredient: aspirin) was advertised as a remedy for "The Blahs." The FDA issued a cease and desist order after much of the damage had been done, and the profits had been collected. If one person in a hundred had been convinced, that's a lot of Alka Seltzer and a lot of money.

When you take aspirin for pain, it may stop the pain; but it usually does little to solve the problem that is causing the pain. Fortunately, most problems that aspirin alleviates cure themselves.

The use of legal psychoactive drugs has increased immensely over the years. It is a major source of income for drug companies and a major problem. Obviously, when someone is so depressed as to be out of it, drugs are certainly a much better treatment than shock therapy. However, it is a reasonable assumption that most of the people who use those drugs don't need them and would be better off without them.

There are a wide variety of things for the treatment of melancholia that are better and safer than drugs. Most reasonably well adjusted people have ways of dealing with the sadness that is as much a part of life as happiness. I take a walk, or write, or fix or build something. Best of all is a good laugh. The trouble is that, at my age, I've heard most of the jokes. Concentrating on work seems to do it for many people; unless it is the work that is the cause of the unhappiness. An American favorite is gardening and/or sex; but not at the same time. Shopping is another, and women have their own remedies such as having their hair done. A person who doesn't have several things that can be used for sadness is wide open for drugs which, over the long haul, only add to the problems.

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