Chemical Imbalances and Drug Dealers

(No, it's not what you think)

by Josh Day

With all the recent buzz around Tom Cruise and his personal beliefs about psychiatry and mind-altering medications, I felt it was my time to jump into this latest War of the Words concerning prescription drugs and chemical imbalances of the brain.

In the United States, we live in a world where powerful drugs are marketed during commercial breaks between the nightly news, and if you have the right connections, you'll be hooked up with whatever you need, night or day.

The best part is you don't even have to know your dealer's beeper number because drugs come with multiple refills these days. As long as your insurance company or pocketbook hold out, you can live it up like Hunter S. Thompson in the 70's... the best part is you can enjoy all these drugs legally!

All jests aside, don't you find it disturbing how easily the public is made aware of prescription drugs through the manufacturer, as opposed to their medically licensed practitioner?

Now let me tell you about my personal experience with popular prescription drugs.

Because I had some dating issues, I started seeing a counselor my senior year of college. Most four-year and some junior colleges have a staff of therapists onhand for students, and the cost of their services is usually included in tuition. Also, I am a big fan of HBO's The Sopranos, and since Tony Soprano sees a shrink, why shouldn't I? Beside, since it was included in tuition, what would I have to lose?

Ultimately, I entered into a healthy relationship during my counseling, and I am now married to the very same woman.

I am not criticizing all therapy and psychiatry. In my case, it was helpful, and I achieved the end results I had outlined when I first signed up to see the counselor.

Now for the flipside of the coin...

My wife Leah, then my girlfriend, approached the counseling center for help with some school problems, largely due to my recommendations.

In one session the therapist -- who only held a masters degree (if that) and could not legally prescribe to anyone -- diagnosed Leah as being clinically depressed, and one day later she had a "free sample" of Zoloft, along with a prescription for a copious supply.

Let me tell you how the process works.

Apparently a few therapists in the counseling center of my alma mater have a close relationship with other professionals at the campus health clinic, namely those who can legally prescribe drugs. What happened was my wife's counselor wrote a note to a nurse practitioner in the health clinic with her medication recommendations. My wife went to the health clinic and saw the N.P. She handed her the note, and the nurse asked if she felt depressed or upset. And with that, Zoloft was prescribed, along with a large free sample to get her started.

This was the same N.P. who had prescribed Prilosec and then Nexium to Leah her freshman year for some digestion problems -- problems which were later solved through a diet change and were in no way related to a stomach ulcer, as the N.P. had quickly diagnosed.

The pharmaceutical companies are doing a magnificent job indeed. When it comes to prescribing hard drugs, why use a middle man? The traditional little annoyance of medical doctors only being able to diagnose and prescribe was easily done away with in Leah's case.

Now it's the drug companies that sell you (and apparently some nurse practitioners as well) on their product on TV. Yes, the smooth-talking voices on the commercials tell you to ask your doctor to see if their drug "is right for you," but it's essentially a done deal.

If you don't fall for the drug commercial hype and ask your doctor about the purple pill or the next best thing in depression or anxiety control, and he prescribes it to you anyway after two minutes of consultation, use your own judgment in regards to your health problem and decide if it really warrants a powerful and usually controversial drug with major side effects.

Remember, you can always take one from Leah and Nancy Reagan:

Just say no!

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