Sunday, August 15, 2010

Over-Diagnosed + Over-Medicated = Overdosed

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:
Link to Samhsa's Prescription Drug page:

1 comment:

  1. I think this is very very important issue that our society is facing today. I find it scary that not only is medication that is highly addictive being handed out like candy, but the Dr's prescribing it usually spend 15 minutes to an hour (if you are really lucky), deciding what meds to give.

    And HELLO if an addict wants more pills, do you really think they are dumb enough to tell a Dr. that? No they are going to fake an injury to legitimately get the pills and how easy is it for people to do that? Obviously very easy because not only are these dangerous meds being overly prescribed for legitimate conditions, they are over prescribed enough for people to have enough available to sell them on the streets. How sad is it that the government "regulates" a dangerous drug just long enough to get millions of people addicted to it, then pulls it from the market because of its dangers, makes it illegal, and then puts the same addicts in jail because of the their addiction or the crimes they commit trying to get the same substance they used to have an Rx for, or because they turn to a much easier to get alternative that is cheaper to buy, such as heroin?

    My son (who is 12 and has already tried some things) ha been prescribed vicodin 2 times already for things that were definitely not serious enough to warrant it. Needless to say we didn't fill the Rx, but Vicodin? for 12 year old?

    We (meaning society as a whole) need to look for different alternatives. We need to learn (and be taught) to know and love our body and mind and have respect for them. Healing is a process that involves so much more than running to the Dr. for a pill.