Doctor-Thumbs-UpIt’s late.  It’s been a rough day… a rough week.  You’re overwhelmed with the difficulties of life.  We’ve all been there.

An advertisement comes on the television.  It’s bright, even hopeful and lets us know that life doesn’t have to be this way.  We don’t have to feel this way and we shouldn’t.  This is a medical condition we have and there is a pill that will fix it.  We are then instructed to ask our doctor about this medication.  After all, this feeling isn’t normal so there must be something wrong.

There is definitely something wrong.  We live in one of the two countries in the world where DTC advertising for pharmaceutical drugs is legal.  DTC means Direct to Consumer and the only other country that allows this kind of advertising for prescription drugs is New Zealand.  Since America’s prescription drug spending comprises 42% of the worldwide total, it doesn’t take a genius to see an issue here.  It is doubtful that advertising is the only factor at play.  So let’s not ignore the elephant in all of our living rooms.

The bottom line is that it is easier to take a pill to change how we feel than it is to do something effective and maybe even difficult about changing the life factors that present us with discomfort.  Whether those factors be nutritional, environmental, or psychological; taking a pill is easier.  And with pharmaceutical companies tripling their spending on psychotropic drug advertising between 1996 and 2005, it makes sense that today, one in five adults are on one or more of these medications.

Surprisingly, the FDA is in charge of “regulating” this advertisement.  Yet even more surprisingly is that the majority of our country’s doctors are opposed to this practice.  In fact, the American Medical Association has called for a ban on DTC advertising as recently as November 2015.  But these topics don’t come through the airwaves nearly as much as the drug ads themselves.  And the ads keep coming.

These advertisements downplay the negative aspects and side effects, while overemphasizing benefit turning normal life problems into a medical condition.  And with serious side effects such as suicidal ideation and violent behavior, when it comes to drugs like antidepressants, these drugs come with real risks.

I’m not suggesting there aren’t actual conditions and illnesses for which drugs are helpful.  These exist, as do the medical professionals who are trained to diagnose and prescribe the medications to treat them.  But this is far different from me watching a commercial and deciding I’m going to tell my doctor what drug I’d like him to prescribe after I’ve already diagnosed myself.  He can either agree, or spend valuable time that could be used for my diagnosis, explaining why that’s not what I should take.  Because if I don’t like that, I can just go to another doctor who will agree and prescribe me what I want.

When prescription drugs become unaffordable, we have serious problems.  In the instances of legitimate illness and prescribing practices, patients often cannot afford the medications they need.  Let’s again examine advertising.  Like any marketing, competition drives prices up.  And DTC advertising increases the demand overall for newer, more expensive drugs.  Pharmaceutical companies spent 3.1 billion dollars in advertising in the year 2012 alone.  Hence, more expensive drugs.

I recently saw an ad for a prescription drug that relieves the constipation caused by taking narcotic opiate painkillers.  So when the side effects of your drugs are affecting you, just take some other ones!  I’m sure this drug is useful for terminally ill patients who take opiate painkillers long term.  But does this require an advertisement?  Can’t we just inform our doctor of our symptoms, and let them handle it based on their vastly superior knowledge and training on the subject?

There’s a reason why the rest of the world (with the exception of New Zealand) doesn’t allow this.  That we in the US have become used to it and buy into it, is concerning.

The message that there’s something wrong with us, that we need a drug, and that our doctor can give it to us is easy.  It works.  And it makes money for some.  A lot of money.

But it also ruins lives, creates widespread financial destruction, and turns your doctor into a drug dealer.  If you’re numb though, I guess that doesn’t really matter.  So what if the side effect may be suicidal thoughts?

You can ask your doctor if not caring is right for you.

Writen by guest blogger Joseph Kertis.joe-kertis-(1)

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Joe has worked at Narconon New Life Retreat for the past five years, since his relocation to Louisiana. In 2014 he became a Registered Addiction Specialist then a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor to better assist someone through the recovery process. As the Rehabilitation Services Supervisor and Family Liaison, he interacts with all Narconon clients and their families throughout their stay.

One Response to “Ask your doctor if suicidal thoughts are right for you…”

  1. Melba Richards says:

    This is a great artical. You are so right!
    The truth is many sickness are caused by things that can be changed.

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