I've long thought it odd that our society vilifies "illegal" drug use while at the same time prescription drug use is growing rapidly. What's more, when you look at the most popular prescription medications, you realize that they are not curing anything and often doing more harm than good.
Statistics indicate that at least half of American adults are taking a prescription drug regularly. That number jumps to 90% for older adults. Even more disturbing is that almost 40% of adults over 60 are taking five or more prescription drugs, many who also are taking over-the-counter medications as well. There is a term for that; "Polypharmacy."
What are some of the most popular legal drugs? More than ten percent of younger adults are taking antidepressants. In teenagers, more than 6% are taking central nervous system stimulants (to treat ADD). 45% of adults 60 and above are taking a statin to lower cholesterol. Blood pressure medications and pain relievers round out the top for adults. Younger kids are getting asthma medications and antibiotics.
If these drug treatments were working, increasing their use should mean increasing the "wellness" of the population. No surprise this is not the case. We are getting sicker. Adverse events from prescribed medications are now a leading cause of hospital and doctor visits. Prescribed medications are now one of the top ten leading causes of death! In 2007 drug induced deaths ranked fourth. In 2009 there were 63,846 deaths from prescription medications.
When a drug is prescribed by a doctor, there is a false sense of safety. Many pain drugs are as addictive and harmful as heroin or cocaine, yet because it's a pill from the pharmacist, it seems so acceptable. The risks to the cardiovascular system, liver and GI tract from just acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or other NSAID are real. There is no free lunch.
The use of psychiatric medications for mood disorders and sleep are highly disruptive to the delicate natural balance of neurotransmitters and mental function. The adverse effects can be experienced throughout the body and take decades to resolve. Sadly, there is little done to actually assess the real causes of these health issues.
The wide spread overuse of antibiotics has resulted in super infections and is largely to blame for the rise in allergy and autoimmune diseases. Another false sense of security has been placed upon the sacred "vaccines," which are linked with immune and neurological disorders.
The abuse is found across all age groups. Doctors are prescribing for newborns and those near the end of life with abandon. No longer can we come into the world untouched by chemicals, nor die without polypharmacy. Could our healthcare crisis be related to all this expensive unnecessary interventions into the natural order of our lives?
Thankfully there is another way. You don't have to rely on pharmaceutical drugs as your first and last resort. It's all about where you place your faith. Is there a place for drugs? Yes, of course. You should give any prescription some critical thought as to its necessity.
Nearly all of the examples I've given above have a natural alternative. You (and hopefully your doctor) must first seek the true causes of your health problem and address that. Manage your symptoms using the least toxic means first. Unshackle your body to heal as it was designed. That is the heart of naturopathic medicine.