Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Addiction should never be treated as a crime. It has to be treated as a health problem. We do not send alcoholics to jail in this country. Over 500,000 people are in our jails who are nonviolent drug users. Ralph Nader

On Facebook yesterday, an old school friend posted this as her status:

If anybody has any feedback positive OR negative regarding Wellbutrin, I would appreciate it.....

I have taken Wellbutrin. There was a time after my divorce and again after the demise of a six-year relationship; when I couldn't sleep, I couldn't focus on my daily responsibilities. The anti-depressant Wellbutrin was recommended by a therapist. I am typically a positive, glass is half full personality type. It is rare even with this roller coaster life, that I am really down or unhappy. I took the medication for just a month. I will say it helped, at least with the sleep by clearing my head of the demon thoughts.

But then, I am not much for taking any medication. I don't like to feel drugged. Twenty-one years ago when I had major surgery and was prescribed the steroid Prednisone. I was also given a pain reliever, Percocet a cocktail of Oxycodone and Acetaminophen. After a week of the pain killers, nausea and hallucinatory dreams that would scare the shit out of anyone I quit the Percocet and limped by on over the counter pain relievers. 

Call me a control freak if you must but I do not like feeling as though I am not in control of my thoughts and actions. I have a deep empathy for those suffering from disorders that affect the body and mind. I also understand the need for pharmaceuticals and drugs. I just have a hard time understanding the needs of a healthy individual who feels the need to take them to escape.

Horrible things happen to people everyday. Many people face things that are just too much to bear. And I can imagine that they feel that getting high will help them escape those feelings. But it is a temporary fix. Most times taking them further into that dark tunnel. 

The county I reside in is often referred to as 'Happy Valley' a term used in part because of the saturation of the LDS faith in the area making it seem to some outsiders as the sacred hallowed ground where nothing illegal, immoral or unclean should happen. And yet others mock it with the name as a place so clean there is no fun to be had here. In reality, it is like any other suburban community. As in other communities, the population is increasing ten-fold, the crime rate is on the rise, and drug use is also rising.

It seems as pressures grow in communities, the need for escape also grows. And in turn, drug and alcohol use and abuse seems to follow. In times past it seemed that most stresses were cooled by the men meeting at the corner watering hole and drinking and joking away the weeks stress. While the wives would hold play dates and gossip sessions where pointing out others problems made one's worry's seem smaller and easier. What do we do in modern day? How many are turning to narcotics and illegal drugs?

Bad things have always happened to people. People have always wished for that escape. But as time goes by, I often wonder why do we create more chaos and trouble on ourselves? Why does that make any one of us feel better?

Another old friend whom I recently reconnected with has been through some tough times. Married to an alcoholic, divorced, blamed and shamed, turned to drugs, then stronger drugs, then rehab, four children created in the chaos, unemployed, turning to sex as a relief and pregnant and alone at 41. Is she learning? is her life changing for the better? It seems not. She is not alone.

Drug use a huge problem in this country. And not just illegal drugs. Prescription drug abuse is on the rise. Drug use is the biggest war we will ever face as a country. And it is not getting better. 

The first time I watched a drug ad on television, I was shocked. My first thought was, do the pharmaceutical companies really need to advertise? As I have worked in the medical device and pharmaceutical arena most of my adult life, I understand the profits of such companies.

Then I began to listen to the ads closer, if you are having these symptoms (most of which were vague enough that on a given day might be common to almost anyone over the age of say 30) ask your doctor. Ask your doctor? When did we some to this place in time where the patient is requesting of the doctor? How can it be safe? 

I remember my kids commenting on the two minutes of side effects listed at the end of the more recent ads. Surely to cover their asses in litigation against those laymen home grown pharmacists- the viewers. My kids would say things like wow who would want to take that drug? With all those side effects? I would explain that most prescriptions have a laundry list of side effects, it is just that most people in this instant gratification world ignore the twelve page leaflet accompanying it. 

I do not blame the physicians, with the exception of those illegally prescribing. It is embarrassing how quickly this virus seems to be spreading across the nation. We as a nation may just be our own worst enemy.

The drug lords, the corrupt physicians are certainly not idiots, quite the opposite. They will sit back and watch us kill ourselves and each other off while taking it all to the bank.

Which brings me back to the post by my friend. It is the small things like this that start the fires... Have we become so commonplace with prescription use that we would take the advice of our social media friends over that of a practicing and licensed therapist and physician? And should we? Is drug use (even legal) so common that a consensus of enough friends who have used it before seems a better choice than the doctors who seem a little too quick to sign off that prescription pad to feed a society of quick fixes?

Do you remember a time when you could walk through a mall or city street and never see on that walk the signs of drug or alcohol abuse? Can you now? It is no longer a disease of the ghetto, nor is it something folks from the other side of the tracks have 'gotten themselves into.

It is the neighbor lady school teacher, the basketball star, the famous movie star, the soccer coach and the homecoming queen. It is everywhere and everyone. 

In addition to the use and the abuse and its effects on those who use, abuse leads to crime increases, more violence, and overall poor health of the country as a whole. Those who are terrified of the thought of crossing the borders to Mexico, who think that countries problems seem far from our own better think again. 

What are your thoughts?

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