Growing up, we took aspirin for every pain. Headaches, sprained ankle, go take an aspirin. Back then, if people felt depressed they sucked it up and suffered silently.
Mick Jagger smugly sang about Mother’s Little Helper in the 1960s. When antidepression drugs came of age in the ‘80s, the floodgates opened for anti-anxiety and mood-leveling meds. Now, there’s dozens of products that will paint your mind beige.
Of course, some people legitimately need medication. It’s the recreational use that’s spiraled out-of-control. America’s addiction was in full swing when the pandemic super-charged depression – and prescriptions jumped by 400%.
Better living through chemistry.
Look, life is hard. But it was hard for immigrants who arrived with nothing. The difference is that we now handle depression with a ‘pills first’ strategy. It’s too damn convenient to pop a Xanax. Not to mention the millions addicted to Fentanyl, which was approved by the FDA for ‘pain relief’. No kidding. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and the #1 killer of 18–49-year-olds.
Now, millions of us are hooked. So, who’s to blame?
Big pharma is an easy target. They convinced physicians to prescribe opioids with a clean conscience. Of course, doctors bear some responsibility for over-prescribing. Sadly, as long as drugs remain affordable and available, there’s no end in sight.
Here’s my take. We live in a prescription culture. But, maybe the answer is less meds and more holistic treatment. More enlightened doctors insist people don’t need powerful, mind-bending drugs. We need more meaning and purpose. We need more exercise and more contact with nature. Counselling and therapy sessions have been proven to improve peoples’ mental outlook, without side-effects. In the UK and Australia, doctors often prescribe mindfulness and reducing alcohol consumption. Activities that directly address the core issues of depression.
Good luck selling that here in the USA.
Note to REVERB readers: I am taking the summer off from writing this blog. I’m preparing to launch a new venture that consumes my mind stirs my passion (in a great way). Stay tuned for more.