Drug Problems in Our Town

cretsinger47b croppedIf you’ve been around me at all the last two weeks, we’ve probably had a conversation about drugs.  It all started with Michael Jackson’s death.  Then it escalated when the FDA was proposing to take some well known narcotic drugs off the market.  Conversation then peaked on a Thursday night at our SPIZZ workshop.  At that point, it got personal.

We hear about the use and abuse of prescription drugs often.  There are consistently articles in the papers and online, we hear stories about grandparents and parents on a dozen drugs, and I even got an earful of information while doing Grand Jury duty last week.  Despite the familiarity of stories, it never seemed like it touched me and the people I loved.  In a nutshell, I am fortunate enough to live in a bubble.

This is what happened the day my bubble burst. During our team’s pre-shift huddle I was reading about how the government’s call for “sweeping safety restrictions on the most widely used painkiller, including reducing the maximum dose of Tylenol and possibly eliminating prescription drugs such as Vicodin and Percocet. ” The reason is that the active ingredient, acetaminophen, is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S.

This conversation gave me an idea.  I started a project.  I randomly chose 110 of our more recent adult patients and looked at their intakes forms to see which prescription drugs were being most utilized. The results astonished me. Out of 110 people, there were a total of 135 prescriptions and get this: 87 different drugs.  These are people I’ve come to care for, love, respect and cheer on to healthier lifestyle choices.  I just didn’t realize they were taking so many drugs!

This is what I decided to do: I wrote down a list of the 110 people who have been under wellness care the longest in our office.  The 110th person has been under care for almost seven years. All these people have been working on healthy choices consistently for a long time.  I want to know how many drugs they are taking so I am interviewing them one by one.  I would hope that number would be much less than the first group, and so far it is looking like it will be.  I’ll keep you posted.

I’m sure you’re wondering what drugs are most commonly taken.  Four different kinds of antidepressants were very common.  As were drugs for asthma, allergies, heartburn, high blood pressure and cholesterol.  Then there were quite a few for diabetes and thyroid.  My conclusion is that people in our towns, in general, are sick and hurting. They might not all talk about it openly with their neighbors, but behind closed doors, people will admit they are sick and hurting, and taking drugs as a consequence.

Public education of healthier lifestyle choices is of critical need.  Even more critical than education though, is systems of support, accountability and motivation.  I take our work at SCC very seriously.  We provide a service beyond chiropractic adjustments.  We are a lifeline to a better way.  If you’ve found help through our education and support, please share it.  Give away all you know.  Tell everyone.  Don’t hold back. People want to know what you know.  People want a better way.  They are just waiting to find it.

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