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AN OVER-PRESCRIBED SOCIETY?

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Just because it’s legal and comes from your doctor doesn’t mean it can’t harm you. It seems the old advice we used to get from doctors about an apple a day has been replaced by something altogether different. When was the last time your doctor discussed nutrition or preventative medicine with you? In this day and age, society relies too heavily upon prescription drugs. In many Eastern cultures, a holistic approach to preventing disease is a way of life. Food, herbs and spices are considered medicine for the body. Practices such as yoga, tai chi and acupuncture aren’t thought of as “new age” or “trendy.” They’re considered time-tested, honored practices that keep mind, body and spirit in check.

Americans are sick and getting sicker. Today, there’s a pill on the market for just about everything, from male pattern baldness, to restless legs, to opiates prescribed to treat opiate addictions. And as pharmaceutical companies race to find a “cure” for many of these ailments, society gets the message that there’s a quick fix when it comes to getting well. Not so long ago, pharmaceutical companies were prohibited from marketing drugs directly to consumers. Today we’d be hard-pressed to find anyone not familiar with the loving couple, sitting tub-by-tub in the sunset, waiting for that “right moment.”

ADDICTIVE PAINKILLERS POSE BIG PROBLEM

Prescription drugs can save lives, and most doctors and pharmacists aren’t bad people. But some do over prescribe drugs that can be harmful. And many pharmacies fill these prescriptions without question. Painkillers in particular have the potential of being habit-forming. Drug detox and rehabilitation centers are reporting more people with addictions to narcotic opiates such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Lortab. The number of painkiller overdoses has skyrocketed. This is due to many factors including patients who engage in pharmacy shopping, so called “pill mills” and the availability of online prescriptions, some that don’t even require a prescription. In November, an ABC News affiliate in Tampa Bay, Fl. reported more Florida residents in 2007 died of drug related deaths than traffic accidents – two and a half times more. Many states have implemented plans for a database so doctors, pharmacies and law enforcement can see a patient’s prescription drug history. The ABC news station said Florida is moving in that direction to help curb its growing problem.

THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN DOCTORS AND PATIENTS

The problem of over prescribing is complex. Drug companies spend billions each year marketing their drugs to doctors and consumers. Many doctors are too willing to dole out prescriptions, sometimes to treat complications from other prescriptions. Patients with legitimate health concerns go to their doctors seeking help but aren’t asking enough questions. Patients should not be afraid to challenge their health care professionals, ask for alternatives to drugs, or at the very least, do their research on drugs, side effects and interactions with other medications. Far too many of us walk into doctors’ offices, state our problems and walk out within minutes with a script in our hands.

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