Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Better Safe Than Sorry

I find it sadly ironic that the queen (as I consider her) of love songs has died the weekend before Valentines Day. Growing up she was always blasting out of my walkman headphones (yes, I am that old) or my car stereo. Her beautiful, soulful voice would sing words of love that uncannily seemed to reflect my current feelings for my latest romantic endeavor. She was, it seemed, there for me at every twist and turn, and the world loved her. 

Her death, of course, is surrounded in mystery. The press, like hounds chasing a fox, is following the scent of prescription drug abuse and its unfortunate outcome. If you consider this situation, it is not unlike many others that have hit our newspapers over recent years. Too many stars have gone astray. Unfortunately, these sad losses are accredited to their drug addiction because of the stresses and strains of their artistic brilliance or their failure to create long lasting relationships in an ever-demanding world. However, when it boils down to the nitty gritty they all have one thing in common -- Prescription Drugs. 

It was not that long ago that heroin or cocaine were the drugs of the moment, creating huge headlines and selling the papers like hot cakes. The drug barons of South America must be feeling the push right now and for that, I am glad. However, as always, when one door closes another opens. Unfortunately, our healthcare providers are in fact unknowingly becoming our next generation drug barons. With the advancement of medicine has come the advancement of drug availability. The very drugs that are healing us are the very drugs that are providing the path to addiction. This problem is not just one that plagues the rich and famous, it can happen to anyone and it does. 

Two years ago, I broke my back after an unfortunate accident. At the same time my young daughter was going through a breakdown, my marriage was hanging by a thread, and my father was critically ill. So naturally, I was on my last nerve. To combat my feelings of despair my doctor convinced me that an antidepressant would help. After much deliberating, I decided to take the advice and started on a round of prescriptions. Of course, the effects of the drugs did make me calmer, and they helped with my mood, but that is all they did. They masked the stresses of my life, but they did not mend it. I became afraid to stop taking them, knowing that nothing on the other side had changed. As time went on, I started to suffer side effects of the drugs. Insomnia, loss of appetite, and inability to concentrate were becoming a real problem. It was looking like I would need to take further meds to combat the effects of my so called assistance. A spiral was beginning, just like that. 

Luckily, I figured out that this FIX was just that, a band-aid on my life and the wound underneath was still there. It would never heal unless I tackled and addressed the real issues. I was not a depressive; but medically I was treated as one. I could have become one of those statistics, one of those unfortunate people who take more and more pills to cover life, a person, probably like Whitney. I got out of the cycle before it began. I am one of the lucky ones. 

Since my experience, I have spoken with people, mostly women, and discovered that this situation is an all too common one. Women going through motherhood or menopause are given a pick me up to help them, students who are finding it hard to cope away from home are given a medical crutch to lean on, and long term illness sufferers are given a smorgasbord of pills to combat their illness and it's emotional effects. Every one of these people is in danger of becoming an addict, not because they chose to take drugs for recreational use, but because they have received medical treatment.  

I am not saying that doctors are to blame for the world's addiction levels. I know that there are those out there who abuse the system knowingly, but each seed is sown from a so-called medical need. I do believe as medicine advances, quick fixes are becoming the norm, but when medicine leads to the need for more medicine then surely this is not conducive to healing. 

Those stars, like Whitney, who have taken this route have paid the price. It is not the price of fame, but the price of being human, just like you and me. I know that after my lucky escape, I will be more careful about quick fixes in the future and advise anyone to think carefully before considering the option of a pick-me-up solution to your problems.  
Stay safe and healthy!


  1. Thanks for the wise words, Dawn. I have been learning to lean into my negative feelings instead of stuffing them. It is a lifelong process.

  2. It sure is but facing reality is a much better route for anyone! Good luck


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