Taking a Pill to Solve a Problem

The Rise of the Abuse of Drugs

Old cocaine tooth drops advertisement.

We have all been trained to take medications to solve our problems. And in many cases, this is exactly what we need to do. Pharmaceuticals have played a major role in the advancement of our society and the improvement of our health. Unfortunately, this has taught us that just about any problem can be solved by taking a pill. Just find the right pill and your problem is solved.

The creation and use of pharmaceuticals to treat problems such as weight, fatigue, anxiety and sleep problems have a  checkered history. In the 1940s methamphetamines were prescribed to treat weight problems. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, barbiturates were prescribed to treat menstrual dysfunction. To quote from an ad for the short-acting barbiturate Nembutal, it is “an excellent drug when little patients balk at a scary examination or when they’re frightened and tense.” Quaaludes were prescribed extensively in the 1960s and 70s for sleep problems.

The use of marijuana as an elixir is not new. Cannabis Americana was sold as a patent medication in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Coca-Cola, as most are aware, contained cocaine when it was first marketed to the public and was often sold at soda fountains in pharmacies. Cough and cold medication during the late 19th and early 20th centuries often contained cocaine or cannabis.

Things changed to some degree with the FDA, but our fascination with drugs and our belief they can solve any problem we might have hasn’t changed. The use of television to market these drugs has obviously increased dramatically in the last few years and with it a dramatic increase in prescriptions written for them. Unfortunately, as most of us are aware, the abuse of many of these drugs in our society has also increased dramatically.

Changing the drug culture that we live in will not be easy since billions of dollars are made through selling these medications. But change will begin with people becoming better educated regarding the effective and safe use of medications and deciding that there are non-pharmaceutical interventions that can often be used to solve the problem they are struggling with. Many problems cannot be solved with medication. Some discomfort and pain must be tolerated and accepted.

This article was originally posted to Psychology Today, “In the Face of Adversity“, by Dr. Ron Breazeale, Ph.D. With his permission, we will share a series of posts on Chronic Pain and related issues as a prologue to introducing what Maine has to offer for treatment options.

Photo pf Ron Breazeale, Ph,D.
Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.