Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gateway Drugs

Gateway drugs. At the mention of them, people think of marijuana. And lovers of the drug will defend that it is not. That it doesn't lead to anything else. That they can stop any time. But do they ever? How many people actually stop. I know people from all walks of life and wealth that partake in the "non-addicting" drug.

I'm not here to judge anyone and I'm not advocating the use of it or any drug. Or for that matter, "not" using.
A topic on my mind lately from interacting with my father each day, is how many pills he takes. I know it's not a lot in comparison to other people. Even my own mother took many more medications than Dad will ever take. I used to watch the people line up at the pharmacy to "get their fix" or monthly rations of doctor prescribed drugs. Anyone who's spent time at any hospital or senior living facility will attest to the amount of medication being filtered through the aging intestines that fill those places. Yet, ask any younger person and they will say things like, "I'd rather die than take all those medications every day".

Time always seems to change our minds though. As a chiropractor, my father believes in natural healing. He doesn't believe in maintenance medications. In his mind, all ailments can either be cured or will eventually kill you. My mother fought the doctor's recommendation of using insulin to control her diabetes as long as she could. She believed she could keep it under control using diet and exercise. Only problem was, she loved her ice cream and never in her life did exercise for the sake of exercising.

Back to my father. He had avoided even visiting a medical doctor most his life. He referred to them as quacks that only wanted the kick-backs from the pharmaceutical companies. You see, as a child, his parents had him immunized against things like polio and other diseases of the 1920's. He had a severe reaction at the site of the shot and was close to losing his arm all together. An experimental procedure for transplanting and grafting bone tissue from his leg to his arm managed to save him from the inevitable amputation that was pending. The surgery worked, but he never liked medical doctors again. He also insisted that no child of his would get immunized and go through the things he did as a small child. When his sister's husband introduced him to the fairly new idea of chiropractic medicine, he was intrigued.

My mother was raised in a house filled with Native American remedies and also was very interested in this more natural way of healing.

When my mother eventually needed more care than we could give her, we moved them into assisted living. The veterans administration offers monetary assistance for these types of places but require a doctor's evaluation of both the veteran and spouse. It was at that evaluation that we found that Dad had three leaky heart valves and was in just as much duress as Mom. He wanted to be able to take care of her, so he agreed to taking "vitamins" to help him deal with his heart condition. He's come to the realization that half of the things he takes are in fact medications. Parkinson's and Alzheimer's have contributed to even more medication. And he's grown accustom even to having help around the house to take care of him.

All this led me to wonder. I wondered when it turns from "I'll take a Tylenol for my headache" to daily maintenance medications. I'm starting to think the real "gateway drug" is aspirin. Then they scare us into "Take this every day....... OR DIE!" Next thing you know, we've got a cocktail like nothing we ever enjoyed as a young adult. A cocktail of medication. A cocktail of drugs.


MorningAJ said...

There are days when I wish I didn't have to take as many pills as I do, but I believe they are keeping me alive - or at least well enough to enjoy being alive.

I've pumped some junk into my body in the past (all legal but not really good for me) and still drink, eat take-out regularly, enjoy chocolate. If taking the tablets lets me get away with consuming the treats, I see it as a fair deal.

Stew Adams said...

I can see that if it helps to live a better life that it's worth it. And if it helps you to get better as well.
But to maintain an existence is just sad.

Admin said...

One thing I've noticed, especially in the location the wife works now, is that people who are in actual need of medications to cure or ease a true ailment are also the ones who are appreciative. The people who whine and moan about having to wait 5 minutes for their little bag or pay a whole dollar or two while the government (we) pick up the rest of the tab are the people with problems no medication will solve.


Jim said...

Sometimes Stew one has no other choice, if one wants to stay alive. Four years ago I had a heart attack. I thought I was 'fit'...ate well, didn't drink, smoke etc. I had to start taking meds if I wanted to live longer and not have multiple 'attacks' again. It was figured that I had inherited the propensity to acquire heart disease. So I had a longer or to have my quality of life decrease drastically very quickly. I chose the former.
I do know what you are saying here. And yes, it would be nice if all remained well and good. That doesn't happen to all of us....with the exception of my Dad!! The whole heart thing comes from my Mom's side.
Years ago as you know, people died much younger. Now due to 'drugs' they can live a relatively healthier life and much longer. It's like a 'Catch 22'!
I always said that I would never take meds....until my life was threatened.

Stew Adams said...

I guess I should clarify that I take an aspirin each day for circulation issues as well as ibuprofen for some severe pain. There was one point in my life that I could not walk at all. Thanks to modern medication, I live a pretty good life now.
I'm certainly not saying that they don't help.
It just seems like they start us out on the light stuff and before you know it, your day becomes all about taking pills.