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Prescription Drugs

Okay, who thinks that we take way too many prescription drugs?

I personally really don't believe in taking drugs or even visiting the doctor unless you are dying or something.  When I was pregnant I was shocked to learn that the average pregnant lady takes 5 prescription medications!  I was like  :o.

I took none, take none now.  I think there is way too much money on the prescription drug industry and the doctors too easily prescribe medication.  In  my opinion, medication should be a last resort, if all esle fails, but that isn't the stand doctors take, which is why I don't go to the doctor.  I think the vast majority of ailments can be taken care of with alternative therapies such as DIET CHANGE, yoga, horseback riding, etc.

What are your thoughts?

i dont take any drugs. i hardly ever go to the doctor unless, like you said, i feel like im dying. my dad takes WAY too many pills (all prescribed) and it has changed who he is. he's not the same dad he was. but thankfully he realized this and is trying to ween himself off of all that junk and he looks into alternative medicine. i dont like drugs of any kind. ugh

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As a pharmacist, I can say that prescription drugs are necessary, but I do think that they are often dishrd out far to readily.

Like SQ said, there are other measures that can be taken for many things before resorting to prescription drugs BUT many doctors are far too willing to prescribe them.

A typical example was with N last yr.  In mid Jan we decided that we needed to start exercising and living a more healthy lifestyle, so we joined the gym, vowed to cut down our booze and stop relying on as many processed meals / take aways (yes I am ashamed to admit we were eating crap for a few months).
So when we joined the gym we had an initial fitness assessment where they checked our blood pressure amongst other things.  N's blood pressure was ~ 135/95 - the policy at our gym was anyone with BP over 130/90 needed a letter from the GP saying that it was ok to exercise at the gym.  Now national guidelines in the UK state that when treating blood pressure in non-diabetics the target should be less than or equal to 140/90.
N went to make an appointment at the GP surgery to get his BP checked - he had it checked about 3 times over the period of one week and also got his cholesterol checked at the same time.  His BP was consistenly ove the one week period in the region of 140/100 - I think slightly raised due to the 'white-coat' syndrome.  His cholesterol came back ok, but his triglycerides were raised.
The GP then proceeded to prescribed blood pressure tablets and cholesterol tablets and even though N said he wanted to try diet and exercise first the GP insisted on writing the prescription.  He also told N that he should not go to the gym, becaue with his high BP and triglycerides he would likely have a stroke with vigourous exxercise!!

It is lucky that N is sensible and that I (as a pharmacist) is his partner.  According to national guidelines high blood pressure should only be treated if it is above 160 over I can't remember what and first line treatment should always be dietary modification and exercise.  And first line treatment for high lipids of any type should be dietary modification and exercise.  Also, bear in mind N was only 36 at the time - not an older person who would be higher risk.

So in this particular case the GP was definitely trying to push prescription meds when totally inappropriate.  If N haddn't been with me he would now be taking 2 additional tablets for life!  I hate to think how many times this sort of thing happens and the peopledo end up carrying on taking the tablets, because 'the doctor knows best'.

I am not saying that you should never take prescription drugs and it really pisses me off when people say that they are always uneccesary and should never be taken, because I believe that there are times when they are needed.

PS if anyone is interested N changed his GP and after 6 months of exercise, better diet and less booze his BP came right down to ~120/80!

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While I appreciate the sentiment that Western medicine tends towards over-prescribing, I did think the original post came across a little preachy. It's one thing to refuse medication but doctors are there for a purpose, and there are many excellent reasons to get regular check-ups and err on the side of caution if there is some aberration in your health. Being aware of your body's normal appearance and functions is an excellent habit to be in but there are times when it's wise to get a professional opinion.

Diet and exercise are great preventative measures, but modern life is busy and sometimes medication can be the most effective course of action. There's a balance to these things and certainly over-medication is an issue; however, if you have a good working relationship with your doctor you should be able to discuss their recommendations and have them be aware that you prefer not to take prescription medication where possible. It's an intensely personal choice and there is no "one size fits all" approach.

Not visiting the doctor "unless you're dying or something" is a cracking way to find yourself diagnosed with something highly unpleasant and past effective treatment. My maternal grandfather ignored recurring bouts of bronchitis, contracted pneumonia and died shortly after emergency hospitalisation. Prescription medication and medical supervision would have improved his quality of life, made him aware of the increased risk of pneumonia and probably made him more inclined to seek medical aid before he became critically ill.

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I am on a prescription now, 2 actually, the first to control my diarrhea when I run. I cannot run without it, so I'm ever so grateful for it. The second is my birth control (whether this should be OTC should be its own thread!). I am happy to have access to both, and I can't really imagine life without them. Prescription drugs have allowed us to progress as a society--we no longer die from single influenza viruses (to the same degree as 100 years ago) and we can stop bacterial infections in a matter of days. These are both wonderful contributions.

That being said, the United States and the Western world do seem to be overmedicated. The fact that we have a bacterial arms race occurring between "super bugs" and our antibiotics is worrisome. 2 years ago when I took Immunology, vancomycin was the strongest, most potent antibiotic we had, used as a last resort. When I learned there were vancomycin-resistant bacteria my jaw hit the floor. In just a couple of short years. This is terrifying, and we can only use antibiotics so strong before we destroy the important symbiotic relationship we have with the intestinal flora in our guts.

We seem to have this idea that pills will fix anything, and honestly, most people I know do not take responsibility for their health or their bodies. Instead of putting down the hamburger and backing away, we take cholesterol lowering medications and high blood pressure meds. Type 2 diabetes has become almost a way of life--its own lifestyle. There are even magazines that support people with diabetes...I find this incredibly strange. Instead of reading about how to live with diabetes, why aren't they reading about how to get rid of it? My boyfriend's mother is this case 100%. If she took half the time she spend bitching about how terrible her life is and decided to educate herself on how to take care of her body, then she'd be off medicines, I'm sure.

I understand the direction you're coming from, and this can be terribly frustrating. I grew up without health insurance, and we never went to the doctor, either. Sometimes it scares me how many pills I have to take to control my diarrhea, and every day I'm trying new ways to control it naturally. I wish more people would take care of themselves and their bodies this way, and not SOLELY rely on medications/bypasses to get them out of the woods.

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I agree that doctors dish out pills way too easily nowadays. I unfortunately have to take two prescription medications for a sleep disorder. Basically I can sleep and sleep and sleep and I never feel rested, no matter the amount of sleep I get. I'm just exhausted all of the time, every day of every week. I had to do 4 sleep studies to get diagnosed. I was pretty much at my lowest point when I was finally diagnosed and prescribed medication. If I hadn't been given medication, I would've had to quit college and my job and move back home. I sleep through work and school. I've tried every trick in the book but nothing else wakes me up. So in this case, I thank my doctor so much because I would be powerless without my medication. I also suffer from mild depression and anxiety, and I did try two medications for that a couple years before my sleep disorder. Neither worked so I just weaned myself off of them. I now just accept that I get depressed sometimes and I get anxiety over silly things, and I just try to remember that there's no reason to feel that way and try to be happy. Of course if I was majorly depressed, I would probably pursue finding a helpful antidepressant.

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I agree that doctors dish out pills way too easily nowadays. I unfortunately have to take two prescription medications for a sleep disorder. Basically I can sleep and sleep and sleep and I never feel rested, no matter the amount of sleep I get. I'm just exhausted all of the time, every day of every week. I had to do 4 sleep studies to get diagnosed. I was pretty much at my lowest point when I was finally diagnosed and prescribed medication. If I hadn't been given medication, I would've had to quit college and my job and move back home. I sleep through work and school. I've tried every trick in the book but nothing else wakes me up. So in this case, I thank my doctor so much because I would be powerless without my medication. I also suffer from mild depression and anxiety, and I did try two medications for that a couple years before my sleep disorder. Neither worked so I just weaned myself off of them. I now just accept that I get depressed sometimes and I get anxiety over silly things, and I just try to remember that there's no reason to feel that way and try to be happy. Of course if I was majorly depressed, I would probably pursue finding a helpful antidepressant.

Just out of curiosity, have you found any difference in your disorder between being vegan and non-vegan? I've heard of so many people talking about various ailments that improved with a vegan diet, and I was just curious to hear more about yours, if you don't mind.

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i think that they're are a million and one ailments that could be helped by diet, exercise, and good therapy. but there are thousands more that truly require medication to make it possible to live a relatively typical (normal) life. there are basic things that our bodies sometimes need help with that all of the diet changes in the world couldn't help with - hormonal, chemical, etc. medication helps those that couldn't otherwise function on some basic level, mentally or physically. kind of levels the playing field, so people can actually try those alternatives such as diet, exercise, coping skills, natural remedies, etc.

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I can see at sides of this discussion.  I'm an MT, and it shocks me what doctors will prescribe just to keep their patients content and prevent them to flocking to another doctior.  That said, prescription drugs have there place for diseases upon which lifestyle modification has little effect (i.e. type 1 diabetes, hypothroidism, hemophelia, asthma, cyctic fibrosis, etc) and also to give temporary assitance to people who are in the process or making the necessary lifestyle changes (i.e. hyperlipidemia, type 2 diabetes), or people who are paying for past indiscretion (i.e. COPD).  The orginal post came across very harsh, but I understand what she was probably tryng to say. 

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I agree that doctors dish out pills way too easily nowadays. I unfortunately have to take two prescription medications for a sleep disorder. Basically I can sleep and sleep and sleep and I never feel rested, no matter the amount of sleep I get. I'm just exhausted all of the time, every day of every week. I had to do 4 sleep studies to get diagnosed. I was pretty much at my lowest point when I was finally diagnosed and prescribed medication. If I hadn't been given medication, I would've had to quit college and my job and move back home. I sleep through work and school. I've tried every trick in the book but nothing else wakes me up. So in this case, I thank my doctor so much because I would be powerless without my medication. I also suffer from mild depression and anxiety, and I did try two medications for that a couple years before my sleep disorder. Neither worked so I just weaned myself off of them. I now just accept that I get depressed sometimes and I get anxiety over silly things, and I just try to remember that there's no reason to feel that way and try to be happy. Of course if I was majorly depressed, I would probably pursue finding a helpful antidepressant.

Just out of curiosity, have you found any difference in your disorder between being vegan and non-vegan? I've heard of so many people talking about various ailments that improved with a vegan diet, and I was just curious to hear more about yours, if you don't mind.

Honestly I feel no significant differences from when I ate meat, which is sort of disheartening because you always want something to make a difference. I have varying levels of exhaustion every day but unfortunately so far diet hasn't made a difference. Caffeine doesn't even make a difference. I could drink a whole pot of coffee and take a nap afterwards haha. Unfortunately they also don't know what causes Idiopathic Hypersomnia which is basically what it means. Idiopathic basically means unknown so it makes it much more difficult to make lifestyle changes since we don't know what will help and what won't. I'm getting a little off track so I apologize, living with this disorder has been difficult. But yeah so far dietary changes haven't made any difference, and nothing else has made a difference either.

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I had to go see a doctor soon after I arrived in Berlin because I couldn't move the right side of my face. I had Bell's Palsy and I was scared it wouldn't go away. It wasn't like I was dying or anything, but seriously, SQ, are you telling me you'd just stay home and do yoga if that happened to you? Luckily it did get better, but there was a chance that it wouldn't have improved and my face would be lopsided for the rest of my life. Why would I want to take that risk?

I haven't had any problems with doctors before, but the doctor I saw ended up really pissing me off because she said something to me that I thought was way out of line. While I was there I also requested 2 prescriptions from her: birth control pills and the anti-depressant I've taken for the past 3 years or so. Apparently my anti-depressant is not available here in the low dose I take, so she suggested I try to go off it. "Life's not a bowl of cherries," she told me. "It seems that every American girl I see is on something for depression." I was dumbfounded. I told her that she didn't know my history and I wasn't about to change what had been working so well for me. But I was worried that I'd run out of the pills I'd taken with me so I tried tapering off by taking it every other night instead of every night. That was not a good idea. There's a reason I take them and I don't need people telling me that it's bad. Now I just have to find a way to get the correct dosage here. And find a new doctor.

Also, horseback riding? It's not a horse's job to help people who aren't well. I know it's used as a form of therapy, but there are plenty of vegan alternatives.

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Anyone ever read 'Our Daily Meds,' by Melody Petersen? It's really thought-provoking... I don't think the problem is prescription drugs per se; rather, it's the combination of two very disturbing social factors: 1) a trend in the US (& other industrialized nations?) to want a 'magic pill' for everything, in order to solve problems without personal effort/ responsibility/ lifestyle/ environmental changes; & 2) the takeover of the pharma industry by marketing guys (vs. health prof's or objective science-based researchers).

There's an interview with Petersen at http://www.montanakaimin.com/index.php/articles/article/the_mcquestion/931, about the book & the pharmacology issues being discussed on this thread. I think everyone should read it, before taking ANYTHING -- certainly before taking any drug developed within the last 5 years. That seems to be about how long it takes to get recalled, after new meds are found to be unsafe...

I work at an elementary school, in a traditionally poor area; VERY high rate of home violence/ domestic instability, horrible nutrition, minimal outdoor play/ physical activity (it's not a safe area, for parents to send 'em out, & it's easier to have them just sit & watch TV)... and -- of course! --lots and lots of kids on meds for ADD/ADHD. That's like the first thing anyone suggests-- when it's most commonly due to physical immaturity, persistent anxiety, forced inactivity, and malnutrition! And the meds are dealt with as a total 'guinea pig' situation... try this, try that, try this WITH that, tinker with the dosage... pediatiric mood/ attn meds are prescribed off-label ALL the time, often in combinations that have never been tested for safe use in children... Does it make 'em sit down & be quiet? Sure! Does it help them succeed in school? NOPE! Meds are NOT the answer to every problem, and we've just gotta get away from the idea that they are.

Exercise often works better than prescription drugs on depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, hypertension Alzheimers, and a host of other problems, based on control studies summarized by the MD who wrote 'Spark: the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise & the Brain'. As probably everyone here knows, diet is a HUGE factor in diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and others; it can also aggravate symptoms of autism, endometriosis, asthma, ADD/ ADHD, IBS, Chrohn's, etc. etc. etc. So WHY are physicians so quick to prescribe, without ruling out diet/ exercise strategies? Why do we allow this emphasis, even expect it?

Big Pharma's marketing guys have done a good job lobbying, and of seizing the steering wheel of our healthcare system: that's why.

Outside of hospitalization for a C-section, 17 years ago, and a route canal 2 years ago, I've not taken prescription meds for anything else except birth control, during that time frame. If I NEED to, I will, and I'll be glad to have access to them; but not otherwise... And if I DO need them, I have a list of questions to go through with the prescribing physician: When was this developed? Where can I find the safety research? Are you prescribing this off-label? If so, why? Where's the safety research on that? Which company manufactures this? Have you ever been a paid consultant for that company? Received gifts or compensation from them in any way? How long have you been prescribing this? What did you prescribe before, and why did you change? etc. etc. etc.

We need health care based on science; NOT marketing!

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There are such a wide selection of prescription drugs that treat completely different kinds of illness that I think it's hard to really look it them on the same plane and decide their value and role in our world. Another complicating factor is that each person is so individual that what commonly works for many people may not work at all for others. For instance, although I am often frustrated to hear people complaining about health issues that could be combatted by a change in diet and exercise I recognize that lifestyle changes are very difficult for many people. If someone needed a prescription for cholesterol levels I would rather see them have access to it while they make gradual changes to their diet than have them be denied it and told to change their diet if it wasn't going to be realistic for them. And, as sad as it makes me, some people will never be able to find it in them to stop eating meat and dairy.
I also take prescriptions for anxiety and depression which allowed me to participate in therapies that saved my life--obviously, a very good reason to take meds! Had doctors said, no let's do a year of talk therapy and yoga first I'm not sure I'd have made it.

To me the current state of looking to prescription drugs so frequently indicates that for many things (ADD/ADHD is one of these things) we need to look at the whole picture--if prescriptions are the ONLY treatment then that is not good. If we treat symptoms of ADHD by increasing movement breaks during the day, utilizing best teaching practices and ABA supported programs and prescription meds then things are looking better. Likewise, if we try to treat something without prescriptions and in an attempt to avoid over-prescribing deny someone health or improvement we are failing them.

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I have two medications that I take on a daily basis for Crohn's Disease and IBS and one as needed for migraine headaches.  If I go off my Crohn's medication or forget to take it I can tell within a few days.  I only wish yoga and diet change would ease my symptoms.  But the fact is they don't and I'm certainly not going to deal with running to the toliet every 2 minutes with diarrhea because someone thinks we over-medicate ourselves in the US.  It's bad enough I have to deal with that (while on medication) when my disease is in a flare-up.  So I'll have to disagree with your anti-meds/anti-doctor statement.

When I first went to the doctor back in '93 for recurrent diarrhea I was so scared of the tests they wanted to do and samples that they wanted I didn't go back for another year.  It wasn't until I was bent over double with pain/cramping, bleeding and mucus that I was finally convinced to go.  I look back now and think how stupid I was to spend a year in misery because of fear.  If I'd went through with the tests my disease would never have gotten that severe and if I'd left it any longer I would've ended up needing surgery.

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mirrya: I don't think the general consensus here is that 'any medication = bad'... obviously there are times (like with your Crohn's) when they are both beneficial & necessary! To me, the troubling issues are OVERuse (i.e. when we go straight to heavy drugs/ expect not to have to change the lifestyle habits that CAUSED the high cholesterol or whatever in the first place), and an industry shift towards marketing vs. science based drug development & marketing (i.e. prescribing drugs or drug combinations for ADD/ADHD that have never been tested for safe use in a pediatric population, which is done very commonly!)... I think we probably all agree that there are times & circumstances where prescription medication is a good & necessary thing. That doesn't mean that our society, as a whole, uses/ views these drugs in a healthy & constructive  way.

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I have two medications that I take on a daily basis for Crohn's Disease and IBS and one as needed for migraine headaches.  If I go off my Crohn's medication or forget to take it I can tell within a few days.  I only wish yoga and diet change would ease my symptoms.  But the fact is they don't and I'm certainly not going to deal with running to the toliet every 2 minutes with diarrhea because someone thinks we over-medicate ourselves in the US.  It's bad enough I have to deal with that (while on medication) when my disease is in a flare-up.  So I'll have to disagree with your anti-meds/anti-doctor statement.

When I first went to the doctor back in '93 for recurrent diarrhea I was so scared of the tests they wanted to do and samples that they wanted I didn't go back for another year.  It wasn't until I was bent over double with pain/cramping, bleeding and mucus that I was finally convinced to go.  I look back now and think how stupid I was to spend a year in misery because of fear.  If I'd went through with the tests my disease would never have gotten that severe and if I'd left it any longer I would've ended up needing surgery.

Oh my god, I had to do a bunch of tests for Crohn's, too, and I understand why you were terrified. Did you have to do the barium CT scan where they put the tube down your throat and filled up your intestines with warm water? That's the worst thing I've ever experienced in my whole life, period. Ugh. Fortunately, I do not have Crohn's, just IBS. I feel your pain, mirrya.

I don't think anyone was saying that you are any less tough or that you're looking for a quick fix using meds. You have a disease that is eased and treated by a medicine and it cannot be by lifestyle. That's pretty cut and dry. If I understand correctly, I think most people are saying (myself included), that doctors hand out meds like candy to keep patients happy, and that sometimes people want to choose medications over changing their lifestyles (when that's a valid option).

I feel your intestinal pain!

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Prescription drugs are there for a reason, but the abuse of them drives me nuts. In my case, I live in Holland where you don't get the same amount of prescribed drugs here very easily.

After an emergency c-section, I was given morphine for 12 hours and then paracetemol (basically a headache tablet) for pain relief. It did so little against the bowel obstruction pain that I had with a NG tube that I refused to take it. When I compared it to a friend who had a c-section in the US, it was unbelievable the amount and frequency of drugs she was offered after hers. Believe me, if you get a c-section in Holland, you need one. It has a c-section rate of 7% for all births.

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