Beating the Drum


Beating the Drum

There's a Pill for that
By Beverly Blanchard
True North Perspective
Beverly Blanchard is an Ojibway First Nation from Northern Ontario.  She holds a degree in Economics. During the last twenty-two years, she has worked as a consultant to First Nation and Inuit organizations in a variety of disciplines including: homelessness, suicide prevention, violence prevention, childcare, HIV/AIDS, women’s issues, business planning, and economic development. She has also designed and delivered Aboriginal awareness and stress management workshops to Federal government employees. Currently, Ms Blanchard is a life strategy coach, author and energy healer in Ottawa.

17 February 2012 — It was quite a shock to see the news headline regarding Whitney Housten’s death last week-end. Dead at forty-eight and it wasn’t pot, cocaine or heroin that killed her. From what we have been told so far, it was prescription drugs. Yes those legal drugs that have been approved by government agencies and are being prescribed at alarming rates by doctors.

From some of the media experts, it would appear that this is only a celebrity issue. We are told it’s the high level of stress in being a celebrity that forces them to turn to illegal and legal drugs. It is only celebrities that get addicted to prescription medications and spend time in rehab. It is only celebrities that die from drug overdoses or the deadly combination of alcohol and prescription drugs.

Everyday there are numerous people who are not celebrities that die from prescription drugs. Last month there was a First Nations community that declared a state of emergency. In this tiny remote community, it is estimated that seven out of ten community residents are addicted to prescription drugs. This problem is not just related to Aboriginal people or celebrities; this problem is widespread in our society.

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), 100 a day die from drug overdoses in the United States. In Canada, at least in the province of Ontario we may not actually know how many people die since under the current Coroner’s Act, all prescription and over-the-counter drug deaths are identified as natural.

Unless it is a high profile celebrity, we never really hear about the people who are abusing prescription drugs. We have a tendency to think that they are only street people. We never hear about how individuals shop the doctor circuit to feed their addictions. How insurance companies help fuel the prescription market.

We don’t hear about how some sell their pills on the street or at schools. We rarely hear about the student parties where the drugs of choice come from their parent’s medicine cabinets. We never hear how easy it is to get a prescription to an addiction.

Yes that last sentence was correct. What no one seems to want to talk about is how a prescription to antidepressants or painkillers can easily turn to an addiction. Our medical professionals have become almost like the candy man. In a five minute appointment a person can pick up a prescription that can prove to be disastrous to both their health and their community.

We have become a society where there are pills for everything. Feeling down in the dumps – there’s a pill for that. Got a child that is too hyperactive – there’s a pill for that. Can’t sleep – there’s a pill for that. Got backpain – there’s a pill for that. There is a pill for everything and all one has to do is show up at their doctor’s office and ask for the pharmaceutical solution.

The dilemma with all these pills is that they never solve the problem. Instead many of these quick fixes create more issues. Many who are on anti-depressants never deal with the underlying emotional issues and find themselves addicted to these drugs. Once on them you can’t just quit. You have to be weaned off them. The same is true for painkillers. Easily accessible these drugs have become the choice for physical and emotional pain management.

In our world today, our medical system is not about prevention, it is about the dispensing of pills and the making of profits. People need to become aware of how pharmaceutical companies create syndromes and diseases to match the pills they have manufactured. They need to understand that physicians are educated by pharmaceutical reps, and a pill may create more harm than good.


Policy Impact: Prescription Painkiller Overdoses

Facts on prescription drug deaths and the drug industry