A recent study led by Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran has revealed, amongst other things, that prescription drug usage is rapidly climbing at the same time that street drug usage is declining. Unlike generations of the past where street drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin were the concern, today’s drug user is quickly becoming one who largely gets his drugs (legally) from his physician. Pain pills top the list of abused prescription medications, but anti-depressants, ADHD, and various other tranquilizing drugs should be of grave concern to us, too.
Taking a birds eye view of all of this, there are a number of concerns I have regarding this trend:
- Since when did we become such a hungry society for prescription drugs? Did we all of a sudden discover that “magic pills” will cure all of our troubles? Has this mindset been created through good science, or capitalistic pharmaceutical companies?
- Looking at the number one abused prescription medication (pain pills), are they really that different from traditional street drugs that people have abused for decades? I mean, both alter your sense of being, anesthetize, and add a euphoric feeling to the user – so what is the difference between them? That one is bought on the streets while the other is prescribed to a user by a physician who likely isn’t watching that closely anyhow? Sorry to sound jaded, but we wouldn’t have a national pain pill problem if more physicians would stop writing these scripts so loosely.
- Do we still operate from an absolute paradigm that “street drugs are bad” while “prescription drugs are good?” If so, should we still think this way? I’m not advocating for any drugs when I ask this question, but instead wondering out loud if we should make these distinctions any more, especially when prescription drug problems border on becoming a national epidemic.
- Is the guy pushing drugs down at the local park any worse than the physician blindly prescribing dangerous medications to eager users any better?
- When will we learn that neither type of drug – street or prescription – will help us in our daily lives and well-being without developing different ways of thinking, new strategies and behaviors, and more effective ways to cope with stress? At best, drugs temper symptoms, but we still have to do some heavy lifting if we really want to experience a better and more successful life. Our bills don’t just “go away,” nor do our relations with others improve simply because we take a couple pills a day — life success takes work, not medicine!
I bet if you asked the average person today about what’s more concerning, street drugs or prescription drugs, he or she will still likely answer that street drugs are the bigger danger. Ironically, we may be entering a new era where these drugs are becoming so intertwined that we really wont be able to make these distinctions much longer. Prescription pain pill abusers are finding that street heroin is a cheaper and easier way to get high, and medical marijuana is rapidly gaining popularity nationwide, with three states (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon) looking to be the first to have marijuana approved for recreational use.
The key to remember is that happiness, health, and peak productivity do not happen by depending on drugs (recreational or prescription). Life success and happiness takes work, but the good news is that people who accept this truth and “roll up their sleeves” and get busy often enjoy the fruits of their labor. Pay attention to your lifestyle, daily decisions, and means of coping with stress — the answers to life success are more likely to be found there than through the form of any drug.