Who's the real drug pusher?

She sat there with the drugs lined up before her. Nancy, (not her real name) appeared to have both a serious and pleasurable expression on her face as she popped each pill in her mouth. Pretty soon she was going to feel different,  not necessarily better but certainly different. After the last swallow of water she placed each cap back on the containers and then walked away to carry on with her day.

She is not the only one. Millions of people are placed on multiple medications to  alleviate health problems. As time goes by more and more join the medicated in their quest to feel better. According to The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 48 % of Americans take at least one medication per month. Over 31 % take 2 or more and over 10 % take more than 5 drugs per day. Who is most likely to be taking those drugs? Women.

There is no doubt that some medications are completely necessary but increasingly there is a debate about the effectiveness in actually improving a person's health. In fact, it is not too hard to find evidence that taking a lot of medications  actually creates more problems and/or masks a curable condition. Unless you have no exposure to television you have probably seen the commercials for drugs which astoundingly lists off more about the negative side effects from taking a medication than its benefits. Still, like Nancy, many users will be willing to try it.

CapsulesWe have a blinding trust for doctors, nurse practitioners and drug companies that extends greater than any other person or corporate entity. In June 2013 the US Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General's report spoke about their findings of over 700 general care physicians and their questionable prescribing patterns. Words like kick- backs, pill mills , fraud and abuse are bantered about to describe what's going on but apparently that is not our concern.

What should be of concern is the increasing overdoses and deaths attributed to the handy access to Mom and Dad's pharmacy. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse along with others across North American are sounding alarm bells regarding the misuse of prescription drugs. The centre assembled a council who published their findings and recommendations in  First Do No Harm: Responding to Canada's Prescription Drug Crisis which intends to address the harms and provide solutions. Most disturbing is research showing that youth view using prescription drugs as 'safer' than illegal drugs, and that our seniors and first nations people have been strongly affected.

Let's get back to Nancy for a moment. She has depression, she is hoping to rebuild her life after a past trauma and experiences sleepless nights. However, for years she remains in a similar state and dependent on her drugs. According to that study I just spoke about approximately 22% of women of childbearing  years (age 15 - 44) have used psychoactive prescription drugs in the past year. It goes without saying that pain relievers, sedatives or tranquilizers also can round out the chemical cocktails consumed. If any of you have been acquainted with drug misuse you may have noted it takes years between the first use of prescription drugs and the diagnosis of abuse.

We talk about our disdain for drugs that come from the streets or grown in someone's back yard but on any given day you and I are in the company of people who are under the influence of drugs. What they are taking is legal and is pushed through a system that uses mediaocracy and practitioners to boost its value. With IMS Health reporting , the size of the global market for pharmaceutical's is expected to grow nearly $300 billion...reaching $1.1 trillion in 2014, who's the real pusher?

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