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Sarkems
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Prescription Drugs

   Thread Started October 16 at 3:02AM

We've touched on this on another thread, but it so happens that the other day, I watched a fascinating documentary about a town n West Virginia which has a very high amount of heroin users. Apparently, prescription opiate based painkillers were massively over-prescribed in this area. When a crackdown was introduced, the residents turned to heroin to feed their addiction.

So, how does this happen? Well, funnily enough, I can see a similar problem with prescription drugs here in the channel islands. Now, those of you who know me of old know how I feel about privatised medical care, and what's going on here (and what happened in that small town in WV) is one of the reasons why I am so strongly against handing medicine to big business to make an enormous profit on.

Let me explain: On this island there is no government assisted healthcare whatsoever. It's impossible to have because there's only about five hundred residents, and we'd have to pay a fortune in taxes to make it work here, so it's understandable why we've not got any form of NHS (though we do have a charitable fund which brings down the cost of prescriptions, though you are asked to pay in full if you can).

Not only is there absolutely no government assisted healthcare, there are very few health-related worker's rights. Nobody gets sick pay from their employer, and there is no government provision of statutory sick pay. So, people tend to want a quick fix to keep them on their feet for work, because they can't afford time off.

Because the doctor here doesn't have the financial constraints of the NHS doctors back in the UK, he's less limited as to what, and how much, he can prescribe. And I've been shocked by what he does prescribe.

A bit of background will give an explanation as to what I mean by my comparison of NHS treatment with the private treatment here. About 18 years ago, I moved a disc in my spine, which pressed upon my sciatic nerve. I was in an agony of spasms. The pain was horrendous. Never known anything like it. So, the doctor gives me Diazepam (a strong opiate, once used to treat severe depression) to relax the muscles enough to allow the disc to move back in place. But he tells me I can only use it for a week, because it's very addictive, and gives me a prescription for one week only. (It did work, but it took me three weeks to get my back fully recovered - the last two, dealing with the aftermath of the injury on standard painkillers alone).

Compare that to here. I couldn't believe it when a work colleague of mine was prescribed the same drug for the type of back pain my old doctor would have given me exercises for and told me to take off the shelf ibuprofen if the pain got really bad. And he didn't just give her a week's dose, he gave her a bottle of them!

Same happened to a friend who went in with toothache (another problem here is that people don't tend to sort things out properly. His tooth really needed dental work, but he didn't want to pay for treatment in Guernsey, plus the ferry over and the loss of a days wages. Financial constraint often leads people down the path of masking the pain, rather than treating the cause. Another problem with private healthcare). Anyway, he got these pills, some opiate based painkillers, again, big bottle, and he's taking them down the pub and sharing them with his mates to get high. When he left the island, he gave the remainder of his tablets to my husband (he had that many, even with sharing them round as recreational drugs, he didn't use them all). My husband put them in a drawer, has never touched them, and there the sit to this day.

In the channel islands, addiction to prescription drugs is a big problem, and I'm convinced that part of it is because of the lack of government involvement in healthcare. Whilst it might only be as basic as no government likes parting with money, the fact remains that, when people pay for drugs, either through private insurance, or by themselves, money becomes no object to the healthcare practitioners, and they'll hand the dope out like sweeties.

Funnily enough, the huge expense of healthcare here doesn't seem to make people more mindful of their health, either. This is a hard-drinking island (not much else to do of an evening), booze and cigarettes are cheaper than on the mainland, so far more of us smoke here than in the UK, where, these days, smoking is much less socially acceptable.

When most people get ill, here, they drag themselves to work (myself included), and go to the doctor as a last resort if they injure themselves so badly they really can't work. So we see a combination of factors - no sickness rights for workers, and a doctor who is sympathetic to that problem and has no financial restrictions. I should also point out that there is no general employment law here, and you can legally be fired for having to much sick-leave.

This brings me to another point about leaping to pills before other treatment. Many things get better with TLC, giving your body time to rest and recuperate. In a world (true of much of the Western world) where it's all busy, busy, busy, must work, must keep going, we shove pills down to get us through the day, rather than allowing nature to take its course. Colds are a classic example of this. Over the counter cold meds aren't a cure, but they do alleviate symptoms. Since working with a cold is no joke, people neck these tablets to keep going, rather than allowing this harmless ailment to pass through the system naturally. So things like colds take longer to get over, because the medication supresses the body's natural tendency to express the infection through mucus, etc.

I've got to stop mid flow as have to go to work. More later ...



michaelcahill
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RE: Prescription Drugs

Reply on October 16, 2017 03:23 AM
I'll just add a few points from first hand observations. I'll add that these observations, beginning in high school have kept me from using even prescription drugs of ANY kind for the most part all of my life. I've taken antibiotics when I was horribly ill, yes. When my blood pressure rose a bit, I lost weight.

Anyway, rambling as usual. In high school, dudes would walk up to me glassy-eyed and ask, "Bro, you want some reds, man, I can't even see straight?" Uhh ... no? Essentially, I'd observe them and decide if I wanted to be in the state they were in and the answer was always NOPE.

In any case, painkillers. Yes, they do get you high. However, there are many people in excruciating pain who cannot function without them. They're in a quandry though because A: the build up a tolerance that requires an increase in dosage and B: the drugs themselves create a pain cycle. Even if the initial pain goes away, there is PAIN from taking the drugs and SEVERE pain from withdrawal. And THIS is people who need the drugs and take them as prescribed. Sticking with them-- the government in an attempt to curb illegal sale and use of these legal drugs is cutting back on their usage and penalizing as a result people who actually NEED them. What are they supposed to do? Well, they end up acquiring illegal remedies and YES heroin is one of them.
The illegal trade is already established, yep, heroin, prescription drugs, whatever they can get their hands on. Somehow they manage to get what they need one way or another. The people who truly need them legally get screwed.

Well, just a part of the situation. There is for sure an over reliance on prescription drugs. I take care of people who rely on medication. They need what they need and NO MORE. Too much is every bit as bad as not enough and often worse.

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RE: Prescription Drugs
Reply on October 16, 2017 05:29 AM << Modifed October 16 at 8:15AM >>
I think the over-prescription of medicine in this country, as well as non-prescribed self-medication have been out of control for quite some time. I remember as a child my mother would toss down several Bex or Vincents powders a day. These were concoctions of aspirin, caffeine and phenacetin. They weren't prescribed by a doctor, but they were as common as mud. I don't believe my mother had any chronic pain issues, she was just addicted to the things, as were a huge number of housewives. The things were constantly advertised on TV and called "mother's little helpers" (I'm pretty sure the devices which bear that description now weren't in common use then).

I've never taken any sort of regular medication. About a year ago, I went to the Dr for a sore shoulder, and a routine test led to the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Most likely I've had it for years, and just been blissfully unaware, and it's nothing to be concerned about - I enjoy great health. But the point is, immediately upon discovering that, they wanted to put me on medication for life to "control" it. I told them I wanted to try a few dietary changes and a bit of extra exercise first. Reluctantly, the GP agreed.

The other thing that happened was that, immediately upon being diagnosed, I was immediately offered a bunch of free (to me) consultations with dieticians, fitness gurus and other "health professionals". While I know I should be very grateful that medical treatment should be so freely available, part of me thinks that this is a huge burden on taxpayers, and a cynical view could be taken that it's just lining the pockets of a bunch of very wealthy health practitioners.

My partner's parents are both well into their 70s now, and although reasonably healthy, both are, like a great many people their age, on a plethora of pills to be taken every day. I can't help wondering how self-perpetuating such free prescription of pharmaceuticals is.

The other thing I find puzzling is the number of kids who are medicated today. This is something that was pretty rare when I was a kid.

Just a few random thoughts to throw into the mix.





Sarkems
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RE: Prescription Drugs
Reply on October 16, 2017 09:11 AM
It's harder to get things in the UK, these days. Doctors are very wary about it, and understandably so.

There's a much bigger emphasis now on dietary changes and things. Interesting you should say about your diabetes, Craig, in the UK if you have type 2 these days, mostly it is controlled by diet (well, insulin is expensive ... )

Kids on drugs is weird. In the days of my youth, boisterous kids were, well, boisterous kids who spent half their lives outside the headmaster's office. Today, it seems, parents and teachers alike are obsessed with finding a medical cause for what used to be just ... kids being kids. I know autism and ADHD are real things, but those issues, when present, are not just about a bit of unruliness, but it seems that every parent with a slightly overactive, or awkward child wants a medical reason for it, rather than looking at how difficult and challenging kids are being handled.

My husband's father used to take 'black bombers', also called 'mother's little helpers' back in the day. Dextro-amphetamine, or Dexy's, were very popular. Not available now except for narcolepsy (I watched a documentary about narcolepsy once, and I know it is serious, but I couldn't help laughing about the narcoleptics support group having a meeting which took hours because they all kept nodding off ...)

I try and avoid meds, too. Since I've lived on Sark, my back has 'gone' once, though never as bad as that awful time all those years ago. I didn't bother with the doctors, just did light exercises and took paracetamol when it was really bad. As for colds, I can't really take over-the-counter stuff, because of the caffeine, so I stick with honey and lemon, and ploughing through it.

I will say this though, I ended up in hospital once self medicating with 'natural remedies' trying to avoid antibiotics. A simply urinary tract infection turned into a full-blown kidney infection, and I had to take far stronger antibiotics than I would've had to, had I just dealt with it properly in the first place, and seen someone with an actual medical degree, rather than googling 'alternative' cures. Yes, I know, I was stupid. I've not been that daft again.

Mikey, what was interesting about the 'heroin town' was that most of the users spoken to in the documentary weren't the people who had had the meds prescribed. Many seemed to be the CHILDREN of the people who'd had them prescribed. They all spoke of how 'everyone was doing it' and they raided the bathroom cabinet. There was only toothpaste and calamine lotion in our cabinet, lol.

What got me as well was the fact that heroin was CHEAPER for them than the prescribed drug. The problem is so bad, apparently, everybody in the town is affected in some way, either as a user or as the relative of one. One in four people are addicted, apparently (the town is called Huntington, if anyone knows any more about it, I'd be interested). Apparently, the town's emergency services have begged the pharmaceutical companies for help, but have been ignored. People are going through trying to get compensation over it all.

I've done a few recreational drugs in my time, but never heroin or cocaine. Nothing I've ever taken has ever been a compulsive need, or a dependency. I've never bothered trying to get high on painkillers (I can pick mushrooms for free). My worst addiction is the totally legal tobacco.

I enjoy recreational drugs in the same way some enjoy a couple of glasses of wine occasionally. Just like I can't imagine 'needing' alcohol, I can't imagine, nor would I want, a dependency on any drug. I did it because it was fun. I might only do something like that once or twice a year. It wouldn't be fun if I had to do it, needed to do it, and it certainly wouldn't be fun injecting stuff.

Necessary medications used at home should be kept out of reach/sight of young people. I would no more have messed with my parent's medication (if they had any) than I would have gone into their drinks cabinet.

I know I'm bad for not doing this, but take time off when you need it. Your health is the most important thing, and sometimes taking a day off might mean not needing six weeks off later down the line. Then you'd really be struggling with bills (if my husband and I simultaneously broke our legs, we'd be buggered as neither of us have jobs we can do with a broken leg).

But also, people should know that quackery is quackery, and it isn't any less 'quackery' just because it is 'natural'. Don't get sucked into the latest 'health' fad, especially if it means paying an arm and a leg for some 'natural detox' nonsense. The 'alternative' health industry is becoming just as bad, and it is not anywhere near as regulated. Just like 'big pharma', there's big money to be made off people's sickness, and just because someone touts their credentials as 'natural', doesn't mean they aren't out to make a quick buck. And 'natural' doesn't mean it won't harm you either, especially when you've self-diagnosed, and don't really understand what you're taking.

I say prevention is better than cure. Accidents happen, but there's a lot you can do for your general health and wellbeing (I could start with not bloody smoking, eh).


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RE: Prescription Drugs
Reply on October 16, 2017 04:44 PM


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RE: Prescription Drugs
Reply on October 16, 2017 04:44 PM


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RE: Prescription Drugs
Reply on October 16, 2017 05:57 PM << Modifed October 17 at 8:10AM >>

I'm really happy for all of you people that do not take medication...I take 9 medications per day, plus I use oxygen at home, and carry portable oxygen when I leave the house...plus at night I use a c-pap machine...and when the inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis becomes dangerous, I am prescribed prednisone (for a short period)and none of these prescriptions are pain killers...I have 2 different breathing treatments, plus one that is used for immediate results...and I will say with hesitation, that I am so glad these medications are available...if not, I most definitely would not be here.

What makes me comfortable is that outside of the specialists, I see a Geriatric Internist every 3 months, at which time, there are blood tests taken to see if any problems are being caused by these medications...and there have been times, when some have been changed, recently one was completely dropped.

I'll say again that I'm glad all of you don't have to use any medications, or should I say choose not too...illness is not always a matter of not taking care of one's self. wanting quick fixes, or experimentation.

I have never been a drinker ) in fact I don't know what liquor tastes like, (I had a sister that died an alcoholic and I have always been fearful of the first drink) so I never drank...smoking, yes that was a problem, and finally my Cardiologist said to me one day, (with a frown on his face).

"Victoria, I have asked you to stop smoking, but now I'm telling you to stop"..and that was back in 1973 and I haven't had a cigarette since... I know nothing about illegal drugs, and have never been interested in that life style...You see, there are some of us that don't have the choice of whether or not to take medication...I'm 83 years of age, and still of sound mind, and I'm thankful for that.

Out here, on Long Island in New York, this drug problem has been serious even before it became known how widespread it had was...it was declared an emergency situation, with centers were opened to give aid.

There always going to be good and bad, in any given situation...I'm very glad that I have very good health insurance, (I pay for it)...which does have a prescription co-pay...at one time, I was given a medication, with a cost of $350.00 for the treatment of an intestinal infection...I have already had a portion of the colon removed.

I wish only the best, for all of you...and I hope you don't ever need any prescribed medication, especially since you do not want to take any pills.

Let me ask you this, i'd be interested in your responses, if you had a serious medical condition and there was a medication that could save your life...Would you take it?.

Just Some Thoughts!









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RE: Prescription Drugs
Reply on October 16, 2017 05:58 PM
Sarkems,

I agree with you. You have made some great points and you too Michael.

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RE: Prescription Drugs
Reply on October 16, 2017 06:33 PM << Modifed October 16 at 8:27PM >>
I hope you haven't misunderstood my intent, Mrs Major.

There are very definitely people with serious medical conditions who must be on prescribed medication. And the older we get, for some of us, the more likely that is. I have no issue whatsoever with the provision of pharmaceuticals and treatments to people who have genuine need of them. And I think it is an abomination if someone tells such a person that they should drink a herbal infusion instead of taking their prescription medication, or that (for example) drinking massive quantities of OJ will cure their cancer.

My points address two issues, which I don't see as being in conflict with the above.

1) Do we, as a society over-service with medications? When is a bad kid just a bad kid, and not in need of drugs? Do I really need a swag of taxpayer funded specialist medical support people at my beck and call because I have a condition which, providing I exercise reasonable care in looking after myself, will likely do me no great harm?

2) If we do (over-prescribe), does this in some cases do more harm than good? Prescription drugs can be powerful things. Do we create unnecessary dependencies? Also, getting dosages wrong, or not detecting adverse consequences can have dire effects. In some cases the "cure" is worse than the illness.

All of this leads me to think we should be looking more at natural remedies and smarter lifestyle choices. To be fair, I think there is a lot of emphasis on the latter, these days. That in no way suggests we should be taking critical medical advice from some guru sitting on a mountain top. Medical science, in spite of its imperfections, exists for a reason.



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RE: Prescription Drugs
Reply on October 16, 2017 08:23 PM
yes I agree...
we should round up every last low down prescription there is....go door to door and demand their peace makers handed over or else...this here's a no dope town now and by gumption and true grit were a going get better...lil' by lil' well heal our broken bones the old fashion in agony way.
yes Sir this here epidemic's gotta end.... get her dones been gassing up for too long and fat ladies are singing loud every where...SOS ...if we wait any longer its sure the cows gonna jump the moon and that would be an emergency broadcast heard all over this is serious-.......I get the sleeping pills-

CD Richards

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RE: Prescription Drugs
Reply on October 16, 2017 08:39 PM
Don't have a kitten, Michael. No one will be taking away your guns or your anti-psychotic meds today.

Thanks for the thoughtful contribution. We may, however have to review the nasty pills and the cantankerous drip you're on. I think we might be overdosing you.


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