For anyone that considers prescription drugs safe and harmless, this is sobering news. For the first time, deaths from prescription drugs now outnumber deaths from traffic accidents.
Deaths from prescription medication has been on the rise for years. As a matter of fact, deaths in the last decade have doubled from drugs. This is in contrast to deaths from motor vehicle accidents which have continued to decline as advancements in automobile safety mount.
In 2009 37,485 people died from prescription medication overdoses. The primary culprits are anxiety medications and pain killers. To put this astronomical number into perspective 37,485 deaths would be equivalent to a commercial jet carrying just over 100 people crashing everyday! Can you imagine if the airline industry had this kind of record? Not only would no one fly but the government would shut them down permanently until the problem could be fixed.
The problem is not that these drugs exist, it’s the way we view health care. We are too ready to accept the quick fix which, in reality, is not a fix at all. It is simply a pill that covers up the symptoms we don’t want to experience.
I think we must also blame how easily these drugs are available. It is all too easy to walk into a doctor’s office these days and walk out with a very powerful prescription. These drugs are often very addictive and when combined with other drugs that are easily available, like alcohol, they become exceptionally dangerous.
Because these drugs are readily available, people tend to view them as safe. They feel they can take high doses and not be at risk of any serious adverse event. Traditional medicine has done a very poor job informing the public of these dangers. And the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want people to know the dangers either. That might reduce their bottom line!
What if we changed our health care paradigm? What if instead of getting a pill for every ache, pain or uncomfortable feeling we changed the way we lived, ate well and exercised and sought more conservative but effective methods to our health issues? Wouldn’t we be significantly less dependent on these drugs? Of course we would!
I am not naive enough to think that this would eliminate the entire problem. There will always be people who choose the abuse these drugs despite our best efforts. But what about the people who die from these drugs who were taking them as prescribed? Or the people who became addicted to the drugs even though they were taking them as prescribed originally? Had those people sought alternatives to their conditions earlier, their fate may have been much different.
The answers to our health problems do not lie with the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, drugs are our primary source of “health care.” Unfortunately, there is nothing healthy about it. Drugs can serve a purpose. They can help when used appropriately. We find ourselves in trouble when we rely on them for everythingas we do now.
Our goal should be to take less drugs, not more. The pharmaceutical industry is constantly investigating new ways to get us to take more and more drugs. As evidence, Pfizer would like nothing more than for Lipitor to be available over-the-counter. It would significantly increase sales. Is it a coincidence that their patent is running out and it will now be available in generic form from it’s competitors? I think not. This is not health care.
The most effective way to stay healthy is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Should a health issue arise, seek conservative care first. Try things like chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, talk therapy or a change in your lifestyle before you resort to a prescription. It might just save your life.