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.