Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The War on Drugs: Compassion vs. Medication


OP-ED By Ryan Courtade, Community Activist

It was a cold night this past February. Snow was starting to fall. I was driving down Houston Road and then BOOM, I felt something hit my car. I pulled over to look, and realized that a homeless man walked in front of my car.

Distraught, upset, unable to sleep. I've always been a person to share my feelings and thoughts with others. I've been an emotional person in a world that doesn't really appreciate emotion. Most people think it's proper to bottle things up, that it's a weakness to be emotional or cry. We're taught that being open is inconvenient.  But I didn't know what to do, I wasn't sleeping or eating, I had a lot on my mind and wasn't sure who to talk to. So I turned to my personal Facebook looking for help. To talk to someone, to share my thoughts and feelings.

I was ridiculed and called a cry baby. That i was searching for attention and needed to suck it up. That if I was really that upset I needed to see a doctor and get a prescription. They would rather tell me to get sleeping pills than ask me what was wrong. The easy solution versus what is right.

The mentality that we as a society can fix things with medications has been on the rise. We would rather trick our brains into being happy than talking about the underlying sadness. We would rather medicate our kids and students in to zombie like states because they can't concentrate versus stimulating them physically as much as mentally, feeding them less fatty and sugary foods and giving them recess. We look for the quick fixes, the immediate results and the easiest remedies, rather than being willing to actually address the problem.

Give them a drug, it will help them in 30 minutes.

People spend so much time self diagnosing themselves or family members, demanding treatment from doctors based on the increase of marketing efforts by pharmaceutical companies that medication is being prescribed in record numbers. Opioids (hydrocodone and oxycodone products) have raised from 76 million to over 207 million prescriptions since 1991.

Is it coincidental that as the drug prescriptions rise the illegal drug use and overdose deaths rise? Are we getting patients hooked on legal prescriptions and then taking those prescriptions away without any type of drug detox? Are we over prescribing Opioids as a quick fix, causing a drug epidemic?

Are we creating addiction in the early years by medicating children, requiring them to have their stimulant medications instead of psychotherapy. To feed them drugs before making environmental changes and counseling. Are these drugs being monitored correctly and counseled properly? There have been 35 school shootings, where the people involved were either on or coming off of psychiatric drugs resulting in 22 international drug regulatory warnings... And still federal investigation on the effect of these drugs and the link between the senseless violence which occurred.

So I have to ask, why? Are we treating disturbed kids? Or are we creating disturbed kids and not moderating their medication and the effects the medication is having on their brain? Are our doctors treating problems, or creating problems due to overcrowded, busy schedules caused by the rush of parents demanding treatment for their kids being kids? Are we realizing that 1 in every 10-15 school aged children is diagnosed with ADHD now? And that 1 out of every 20-25 students is on a stimulant medication. And children on stimulant medication has a larger chance of developing a substance abuse problem than children not on the stimulant medication (17% vs 2%).

Signs are pointing to the cause of this increase in addiction. We are ignoring people when they need compassion and telling them to suck it up and take a pill. Women who have PTSD from childhood abuse or sexual assault have a 30-59% chance of drug abuse. Do these women feel that our society is open-minded enough to listen and help them through their abusive pasts? Or are they meant to feel shame, judgment, and lack of compassion from anyone that they may ask for help. So instead of feeling shamed, they turn to drugs to not feel anything.

Our society is creating this problem and then attempting to turn a blind eye against the treatment.

Even in the "personal choice" diseases of smoking caused lung cancer and heart disease, the eating too much diabetes and heart failure and the drinking too much liver failure, our society has accepted to treat and educate. There have also been national campaigns of drinking responsibly, eating healthy and a surgeon general's warning placed on every pack of cigarettes sold. So then why is the addiction and drug abuse recovery so far behind it's time? Why, when it's not a personal choice, but a societal impact, is society trying to skirt responsibility?

And when is society going to step up and recognize what we are doing to our bodies, what we are doing to our kids, what we are doing to our women. When will we become compassionate humans that create time to help others through their problems rather than taking the attitude of "not my problem". When will we spend the time to diagnosis the person and not the symptoms?

A societal shift of thinking needs to occur before this war on drugs will ever be won. We need a war on arrogance. A war on intolerance. A war on superiority. And a war on time. We need to give our time to those going through a traumatic experience. We need to give our time to our kids to get them out of the house and physically stimulated. We need to eat better foods to keep our mind healthy. We need to focus less on what the television and internet is trying to sell, and focus more on what is good for us.

We need to focus on fixing the person overtime, and not changing the person with chemicals. We need to focus on being the best people we can be for those around us. We need to fill our hearts with love and our minds with understanding and tolerance. Not to ridicule someone or call them a cry baby, but to talk them through their hard time and show them someone cares.

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Ryan Courtade runs YourAddictionSupport.OrgThe views and opinions expressed here in this op-ed do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Fort Thomas Matters, its owners, writers, or editors. 

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