Pills – People – and MORE Pills

“Doctors are now medicating unhappiness,” said [Dr. Ronald] Dworkin. “Too many people take drugs when they really need to be making changes in their lives.”…

“In a study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at 2.4 billion drugs prescribed in visits to doctors and hospitals in 2005. Of those, 118 million were for antidepressants.” (from Antidepressants Most Prescribed Drugs in U.S. on CNN.com)

I was reading this article yesterday and I was struck by its sad truth. There aren’t many of us who have been through difficult times (those two words do not seem strong enough to describe the images in my mind!) and haven’t considered the need for medication and/or alcohol. We look for a way to “just take the edge off” of the awful pain we are experiencing.

I do not want to mislead anyone reading this that I am joining the Tom Cruise Anti-Pharmacology League! As an RN, I believe there is a time and place for medication and agree that depression is an illness. However, I also believe that disease is better managed when it is exposed and not covered up or masked with medication for indeterminate amounts of time.

Too often medication can be used instead of action or changes in one’s life. I am overweight. I could take any number of pills to curb my appetite or I could learn some life style changes and utilize portion control, good eating habits, and the better ways to cook! Yes, I could use both! Change for the sake of change is not the best answer. Changes must come with some solid principles that are cloaked in a healthy layer of wisdom and experience that gives me well-learned lessons. Maybe medication gives me the feeling of a “quick fix” and avoids the difficult long-term exercise that is required to make life-changing adjustments. Making life style or life habit changes is not quick and not easy. Support of family and friends is important and yet, sometimes absent. Book store shelves are lined with opinions that are as diverse as the covers that surround them and the authors that wrote them.

This wouldn’t be my musing if I didn’t put a note that expresses my frustration as a Christian and member of a congregation. Do those who feel the need for help in coping with the difficulties of their lives find more support in a bottle of pills than they do in their ‘home churches’? Are we too busy to see the needs? Are we too concerned with keeping our church ‘clean’ and less concerned with those who are bleeding right in front of our eyes?

Jesus said, “When you gave something to eat to those who were hungry and something to drink when they were thirsty; clothed the naked and gave your time to visit the sick and those in prison – you did that for ME!” (my paraphrase of Matthew 25:35-40)

Medication has been developed throughout the centuries by gifted, intelligent people in the hand of a mighty God! He also gives us the opportunity to be His hands and feet to reach out to those who do not yet know how extraordinary He really is!

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