We live in a medicated world. Pain, depression, and everything in between can be treated by pills and injections. There will always be those who are in need of medicine, those who need that extra support to function. Unfortunately, though, the line between needing medication and wanting medication becomes more and more blurred as time passes.
Life always has hiccups. There are times of pain, not just physically, but emotionally. There are periods of unbearable stress. Sometimes, it seems impossible to focus on anything.
Do those hiccups warrant a prescription? Many doctors and patients seem to think so. If a patient comes in and explains that they are depressed, and they are given an antidepressant. After a surgery, if a patient complains about pain, they will be prescribed a painkiller. If a short attention span and high energy is affecting a patient, they are given ADHD medication.
The blame shouldn’t all be placed on the doctors. Think of all the drug ads on television. Are you sad, do you want to be happy? Take this medicine and you will be! The idea that all your problems can be released by consuming a small tablet can be tempting.
So patients go to the doctor. Maybe they exaggerate a little bit about their symptoms, so they can ensure they get the drug they want. The promises the pharmaceutical companies make are enticing, so the symptoms get fudged to make sure the miracle drug is prescribed.
There are instances when a prescription is the right choice. But there are also times when medication can do more harm than good. Overmedicating harms not only the user, but it can also affect the people around them.
Take ADHD prescriptions as an example. According to the CDC, in 2011, over 10% of people ages 4-17 were diagnosed with ADHD. To treat it, stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are prescribed. For individuals with ADHD, these drugs take them down to a more balanced, focused state of mind.
The flip side of this, however, is that these stimulants can be highly addictive. They are highly sought after by teenagers and young adults, who use them recreationally for their “wakeful” effects.
Let’s say that a 15-year-old is prescribed a bottle of Adderall, maybe a month’s supply. If their friends ask to have some, maybe even offer a little cash for it, it can be hard for that kid to turn down their friend’s request.
Obviously, not every teenager is going to give into that temptation. Also, not every teenager who experiments with Adderall is going to have a full blown addiction. The above, though, is an example of the trickle down effect that prescription medications have.
Another example is a grandparent having medications around their home. Maybe they suffer from chronic pain, or have leftover pills from a previous surgery. They aren’t suspecting one of their children, or grandchildren to steal from them. However, when you have 30 pills in a bottle, it isn’t easy to catch one that’s missing.
That’s the problem with many medications. They aren’t all locked up in hospital cabinets. They’re in our homes, in our bathrooms and kitchens. Five little orange bottles neatly lined up on the microwave. Ripe for the taking.