All Drugged Up and Nowhere to Go

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vintage bottlesIn contrast to the illicit street drug scene which has been vilified, banned, criminalised and punished by our social and medical systems, the police, politicians and the judiciary, we now have a thriving and much more damaging promotion of “safe” legal prescription medicine, creating addicts of all ages.

Human societies have always sought relief from strife and worry by becoming hooked on wide ranges of herbal extracts, alcoholic mixtures, magic mushrooms, weird religions and advice from shonky shamans. It appears to be an integral part of human nature through the ages to block out pain and misery by over-use and addiction to just about any substance.

In the last few years of my pharmacy career, I became horrified at the unrecognised and unacknowledged addictions that proliferated. Children were doped up with sedating antihistamines (Phenergan and Vallergan) to knock them out and give their parents a rest. ADHD, autism and juvenile asthma have all exploded and instead of looking for likely environmental causes  (contaminated food, atmospheric pollution with high particle content, heavy metals, routine spraying with pesticides and herbicides), our medical system, as always, resorts to drug treatment.

The easiest and most economical way for our over-stressed and time-poor medical system is to mess with our brain-chemistry. This occurs with children who are routinely doped with amphetamines from an early age to treat ADHD and other behavioural syndromes. In adults, the amphetamines and methylphenidate (Ritalin) act as stimulants, but have the reverse effect in children, helping to sedate and tranquillise with little or no regard given to long-term consequences.

The epidemics of anxiety and depression that have engulfed the Western world are also treated with drugs that alter brain chemistry, so we now have people of all ages being experimented on. In the bad old days (which weren’t all that bad really), “mental illness” and “nervous breakdowns” were treated with drugs that truly zombified the patients, and induced horrific dyskinesias and ataxias, and the unfortunate sufferers were isolated in horrific institutions (safely locked away from our “healthy” society). The newer generation of drugs are much safer, but they still play havoc with serotonin, dopamine and nor-adrenalin. These all take part in a continual, finely balanced dance in the brain, constantly being produced, destroyed and removed in micro fractions of a second. Using drugs to alter this balance is hopelessly clumsy and eventually damaging.

All anatomical and physiological systems are incredibly complex and fine-tuned. The immune system, the nerve-muscle synapses mediated by acetyl choline and cholinesterase, the liver-enzyme system and the already mentioned brain chemistry system have developed over millennia, so drug treatment on these systems is hopelessly inadequate. Ideally, there should always be a holistic approach — that is, treatment by doctors of the WHOLE organism, not just the particular system that has broken down (which explains the dominance and proliferation of medical specialists who know everything about their tiny field of expertise, and nothing about the complete, holistic organism).

Now we come to the worst cases of all – the treatment of the elderly. The inmates of nursing homes are truly drugged up to their eyeballs and being turned into addicts by constant dosing with benzodiazepines—Valium, Serepax, Xanax during the day and Temazepam and Nitrazepam at night. The whole economic-based model is based on modern families having neither the time, money or concern to look after their elders. It is truly shameful that our modern, wealthy society takes this option when other so-called more primitive and deprived societies care for their elders respectfully and with dignity.

So, this is the pattern of modern-day addictions. They are all caused (and even promoted) by self-interest and the profit motive, whereby vast quantities of drugs are demanded by our worried, anxious, depressed and frightened people who demand to stay healthy and to live for ever. Naturally, the drugs are duly supplied, with no thought or energy being given to address the social and environmental disintegration that is causing all the problems.

Related Post: Legal Addiction

Robert Gosstray

Robert Gosstray is a retired pharmacist and the resident health writer for Midlifexpress. He is the author of The Pharmacist's Secrets: Drugs, lies and money.

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