Take This Pill

Prescription drugs are an issue that is both phenomenally complex, and extremely polarizing. Most people seem to be either completely supportive of them, or they view them as marketed poisons. As with almost every highly publicized subject in our world, people tend to oversimplify facts to support their extreme positions. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

Prescription drugs are often over-prescribed, especially in North America, and particularly in the United States. More people there are on prescription drugs than any other country in the world! If this is the fault of doctors, we can really only blame them indirectly, because the problem is systemic. The majority of doctors are trained to fix symptoms through drugs and treatments, rather than by addressing underlying problems with effective and preventative options. If most people who need blood pressure medications get off of them because they start exercising and eating healthily, drug companies would lose a lot of money. That’s why they spend an average of 2 billion dollars a year on advertising! It’s also why they hold conferences, and invite doctors to come and be encouraged to prescribe their drugs. This pernicious framework is one of the main factors that can lead to doctors treating patients with slow and inefficient methods.

That is the part of the equation that anti-prescription drug people have  mostly correct, but here is where they take it too far. They claim that since doctors are encouraged to maintain health instead of improving it, this means they are inherently corrupt, and want to harm patients. These people argue that natural approaches are all that is needed, and prescription drug companies do nothing but suck money out of people, only to deliberately harm them. It is true that there are many natural plants and treatments that help people, but throwing out the baby with the bath water is in this case, a dangerous proposition.

A healthy diet and lifestyle can take us far in our quest to live long, healthy, happy lives, but there are some problems that are unavoidable, and have no natural cures. Some people against prescription drugs don’t use vaccinations, or antibiotics! That is an unbelievably bad idea! It has already caused innumerable deaths. We can’t cure things like Polio, or the Spanish Flu, without vaccinations. To claim otherwise is laughably dishonest. In the case of antibiotics, it is generally unhealthy to be on them for a long period of time, but if the alternative is death or disease, it’s better to use antibiotics. There is no effective natural alternative, and let’s not forget that antibiotics were natural to begin with. Penicillin, the first antibiotic, was derived from bacteria growing around mold.

The term “natural” is a cop-out. Viruses are natural, and some of them kill us, while others can help us. The same is true with bacteria, food, lifestyles, and drugs. A cheeseburger can be made from natural, organic ingredients, but that doesn’t mean cheeseburgers are health supplements! Food companies have no official guidelines they must follow when using the terms “organic”, or “natural”. That doesn’t mean we should start following diets of pizza and beer, but neither does it necessarily mean that “organic”, “natural” lettuce is completely the way it’s supposed to be. Natural and organic foods are more likely to be healthier than their alternatives, but they are not The Limitless Pill, and other options are not Kryptonite!

All drugs are tools, whether they be natural, prescription, legal, illegal, kosher, blessed by the pope, or blessed by Satan. When choosing a tool, we need to make sure it’s the right one for the job, and that we use it correctly. A hammer wouldn’t cut a piece of wood very well, and if we’re not careful with a saw, we can chop off a finger. Some tools are better and safer than others, even other types of the same tool. A brand new screwdriver will probably work better than an old, rusty one, and a belt sander might require more instruction than a hatchet. Some legal drugs are safer than illegal ones, and other illicit ones are more beneficial than their legal counterparts. Some prescription drugs and treatments are a better idea than natural ones, and vice versa.

Extreme positions on either side of an issue are often flawed. We could all benefit from fully looking into someone else’s stance before we judge it, even though this is very difficult, because it goes against our instincts. We all want to be right, and hate being wrong, even if we don’t admit it. However, if we take the time to look at both sides of issues, we will discover good points and bad points on each end of the spectrum. The complete truth of a subject can rarely be known.

The best we can do is look at the majority of facts, and determine aspects of the truth, which are always subject to change. This approach often leads to the conclusion that extremists are wrong, and moderates on both sides of an issue possess valuable foundations of truth to build on. In the case of prescription drugs, they are not inherently bad or good, and are not automatically better or worse than anything else. They serve a valuable purpose. If we add prescription drugs and therapies to our tool-belts, along with natural approaches, we have a better chance of choosing the best tool for each job. In the journey of life, we all need well-stocked tool-belts.


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