By Maggie Andresen
Pop a pill and make it better, never mind the cost.
America has quickly evolved into an anesthetized nation relying on a rainbow of medications for easy living. Massive over- prescription of psychiatric drugs by primary care doctors who are prey to diagnosis fads and unregulated drug company influence has lamentably become trademark of the current status of healthcare professionals. The unfettered nonchalance with which America has begun to perceive excessive over the counter and prescription drug use is deeply unsettling, just because these drugs are not illegal does not make their potential for abuse any less salient.
There are several specific hotbeds of over medication which are particularly detrimental, there is no doubt that these trends are in dire need of change and that as a culture America needs to face the crux of its problem. Because of size constraints, I will elaborate on only two which I feel are particularly salient.
#1. Overdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD, Overprescription of Stimulant Medication
Ritalin and Adderall, both over-used and over- prescribed for the treatment of ADD and ADHD, are incredibly powerful amphetamine salts which are listed in the Schedule II listing of drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. These medications are listed in the same addictive- abusive category as cocaine, crystal meth and oxycodone. Children who do not have learning disorders are sometimes prescribed these powerful drugs for better focus in school, to put them at the head of their class and give them a leg up on competition. Parents are far too gung- ho to intentionally medicate their average level children under the ruse of a fabricated learning disability, believing they are encouraging their children to better succeed with targeted medication. In reality these powerful drugs have too strong a potential for abuse and misuse, often used on college campuses for cramped all- night study sessions the rate for unprescribed use of ADHD medication has increased from 6.6% to 9.3% on American campuses, according to the Monitoring the Future Study.
#2. Overdiagnosis of Depression
About one third of Americans describe themselves as ‘depressed’ in any given month, only 3% however are chronically unhappy. Historian of Psychiatry Edward Shorter further elucidates this assertation in his new book How Everyone Became Depressed: The Rise and Fall of the Nervous Breakdown, saying, “Poorly diagnosed patients are denied the benefit of proper treatment while being exposed to all of the side effects of classes of medication, such as the Prozac-style drugs, that are ineffective for serious illness.” The overdiagnosis of clinical depression intrinsically leads to the unnecessary prescription of psychotropic medication and antidepressants, and the wanton use of these pharmeseudicals can lead to physical or psychological dependence on these drugs.
The ramifications of America’s overmedication are simple, reliance on these drugs is anasthesizing our culture and changing the usual response to casual pain. But if you’re worried about our future, don’t fret. They’re working on a pill for that.