Saturday, February 18, 2012

Medication vs. Drugs

I suppose we could pass it off to vernacular speech when we talk about 'drug addiction', but the truth is that using appropriate nomenclature is important when defining the national epidemic in the United States. IT IS PRESCRIPTION ABUSE.

Drugs are illicit substances that people buy on the street or trade. Heroin falls into that category and in most states so does marijuana. The illicit sale of medications such as Oxycontin, Percoset and Opana falls under the same name- with 'illicit' being the major factor.

Medications on the other hand,are prescribed by a physician or nurse practitioner for a medical or psychological condition. The abuse of these medications is the leading cause of concern in this country. Taken as prescribed, medications mitigate pain, lessen anxiety and lift depression. The problem comes when people share their medications or take them as they feel like it to change their emotional state. I understand the pressure that we are all under- never being able to shut down or turn off (computers on IM at work and at home, cell phones and text in the car and when we walk,shop or work out; and the radio competing with TV and the internet for our attention). Yet self-medicating to deal wit these stressors IS NOT THE ANSWER. IT IS THE PROBLEM!


T.Picard said...

Personally, I feel society as a whole looks for the “easy way out” or the “quick fix”. Instead of using drugs, even prescribed drugs, there are other methods of reducing depression, anxiety, pain and stress. Exercise can be used to treat depression and anxiety. Exercising releases endorphins in the brain, which in turn causes a "natural high". Adrenaline-charged activities create a moment when suddenly pain or discomfort drops away and we are filled with a sense of euphoria. Meditation techniques, such as breathing exercises, can quickly and effectively lower stress levels. If medical staff prescribed fewer drugs and instead educated patients on the natural benefits of exercise they would still be offering treatment plans, while reducing the amount of accessible drugs which could potentially be abused.

Dr. Alicen said...

Dear T. Picard,

Thanks for the great comment. I totally agree that we need to look for,and to recommend alternative ways of managing our lives. Research is clear - exercise is one of the best.

Running, swimming or just walking fast each day lifts depression. Meditation and breathing helps center us. And mindfulness keeps us in the moment, freeing us from anxiety.

I recommend all of the above for my patients. And I use all of these techniques myself.

If we don't start by using the 'quick fix' we will be less apt to abuse it.