It is the Eighth month of 2010. Since the first of the year I have helped about a dozen individuals--addicts, family members, friends--deal with the aftermath of an overdose.
In some instances the overdose was fatal. In all instances the overdose was devastating. Children find siblings and parents unconscious and not breathing; parents who think their kids are only smoking a little pot discover them unconscious with blue lips.
This is awful, a horror beyond anything a family should have to endure. But here is the biggest part of the problem. We are not talking about overdoses on street drugs, we are talking about prescription drugs. Straight from the friendly Walgreen's or CVS and ensconced in the medicine cabinet.
Sooner or later, we've got to ask, are all these meds really necessary? Does anyone really need Oxycontin for a toothache?
What got me started on this rant, surprisingly, was not something about drugs; it was a New York Times article on Grief. Specifically, grief that has found its way into the DSM, the diagnostic bible of the mental health field. Not that grief isn't painful and isolating, but is it a diagnosable illness, or simply part of the human condition? And unfortunately, in the post-therapeutic age we live in, what's the treatment?
More prescription drugs. Of course they will be non-abusable and non-addictive.
Just like we thought benzo's were safe, back in the 70's. At least until Betty Ford went public with her Valium addiction, and founded the treatment center that bears her name.
Anyway, I would just like to see us slow the roll a little, and think about some alternatives to a pill. Talk therapy isn't the answer for everything, sometimes meds are exactly what the situation calls for. But let's don't through the alternatives out the window.
After all, no one ever overdosed on talk.
Link to NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/opinion/15frances.html?src=tptw
Link to Samhsa's Prescription Drug page: http://family.samhsa.gov/monitor/howpresdrug.aspx
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