A Pill For All That Ails You?
THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – We live in a society that wants everything fast. Feel bad, we want instant solutions. Have a headache, there are lots of pills you can take. Often a trip to the doctor generates a prescription for some drug that will cure what ails you. In Thunder Bay we can see the impact of addictions on our streets. About a quarter of a million syringes are handed out in our city to prevent needle sharing by addicts. Our city has a growing and thriving number of methadone clinics.
Few medical professionals question that shifting a person from one drug to methadone isn’t really solving the root problem, it just shifts where the money goes.
We have pills to ease pain, to cure infection, to help us lose weight, to treat chronic conditions, and to enhance our sexual and athletic prowess. Why do pills play such a central role in today’s society and could we benefit from taking fewer pills? This provocative topic is explored in the article “‘Take Your Pill’: The Role and Fantasy of Pills in Modern Medicine,” published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine website.
Coauthors Drew Leder, MD, PhD, Loyola University (Baltimore, MD) and Mitchell Krucoff, MD, Duke University Medical Center (Durham, NC), discuss why pills are such “ideal consumer items” and offer the promise to solve so many of life’s problems. They describe some of the adverse effects of pill-taking and of the “exaggerated cultural fantasy” surrounding pills in modern medicine. While many pills offer important therapeutic effects, they should be used more selectively, suggest the authors, and viewed as a “gift.”
Healing or Financial Gain?
“As a healing construct pills concentrate both biochemical and symbolic power,” says Dr. Krucoff, an Executive Editor of the Journal, “however like most powerful things, their place in modern culture can be unbalanced when the healing context is subverted by priorities like financial gain.”
What seems to happen in many cases is that drugs, like methadone, are used to help, but the goal of becoming drug free is not put in place, and the long-term side effects are ignored.