Self medication anyone?

Just read the paper and there was an article talking about self medication. No, it's not about taking vitamins and an occasional dose of Tylenol. It seems that among the computer-savvy, college-educated 20-something crowd, self medicating with and sharing of prescription drugs is becoming very common. Ritalin is one of the drugs of choice, especially in college and the work place. While Ritalin helps people become highly motivated, energized and focused, Ambien represents the other end: it calms and sooths and gives the young ones the sleep they crave. Anti-depressants are also popular part of the arsenal.

According to the article, these young people share their prescriptions, go to multiple doctors or manufacture symptoms to get their hands on these drugs. They are not doing it to get high, though, unlike high school kids, and they don't abuse these drugs. The reality is that with the use of the Internet, they've equipped themselves with the knowledge of healthcare and legal, prescribed drugs. They're confident enough to diagnose their own or their friends' problems and self medicate without ever going to the doctors. They don't believe in HMOs. This is the generation that takes matters in their own hands, including their healthcare choices.

Sometimes I feel like an old fart next to a 22 year old. But as far as self medication is concerned, I feel like I'm on the same wavelength. Lord knows when's the last time I went to the doctors. Personally, I don't take any prescription drugs (Claritin is now on the shelves), and I don't need Ritalin to give me a boost or Ambien to help me relax and sleep. I do take herbs and supplements, just nothing that needs a prescription. I can certainly understand the allure of self medication.

The fact of the matter is, I don't trust doctors. At the office, they'd look at me for 5 minutes and pretend to know my entire medical history and my body. Then they'd prescribe five or six drugs with names I can't even pronounce, all with side effects and long-term damages to the liver or heart or kidneys. Excuse me? It has nothing to do with professionalism. I'm a computer professional and I would never pretend to know my client's systems by looking at it for 5 or 10 minutes.

Most of the time, I feel like a sheep being herded through the maze of the doctor's office. "The doctor will be with you," the cheery nurse or nurse's aid would chirp. Then I'd sit there in my nakedness, a silly cloth gown barely covering my genitals. And the doctor would finally come in and only give me his or her precious 5 to 10 minutes. That's all. That's it. 10 minutes. And I'm supposed to believe that the doctor knows everything about me and care about whether I live or die the next day?

Nope. Welcome to the world of HMOs. We are sheep. The only person who really cares about my well-being is me. In the past few years, I've only gone to the doctors three times, I believe. Two general checkups and one time due to a broken hand. Even with the broken hand, the doctor didn't do anything. They took some X-Rays and put a cast on and that was it. Oh, and a small pack of Tylenol. They didn't check back on me or ask me how I was doing. I was on my own. And that's okay. I can take care of myself just fine. My health insurance is just that -- insurance. Just in case I have an accident and end up in the hospital for a fractured skull or ruptured spleen or something. When I get really sick (such was the time when I got really sick in California last month. My digestive system just shut down. Fortunately, my mom gave me some of her pills and I was good to go in a few days) I do need medicinal help. But as far as maintenance and everyday well-being are concerned, I'm on my own.

And you know what? I feel great. I eat well and exercise moderately. I try to get as much rest as possible. I relax and de-stress. I take vacations. I drink a lot of water and stay away from pops. I don't drink or smoke. I don't need anti-depressants even though I do feel like crap on certain days. Every time I do go in and get my regular checkup, I come out with flying colors. It's not about genetics. It's about lifestyle choices. The mind is a very powerful thing.

I think most people in the world are so heavily medicated and dependent on their doctors and pharmacists that they don't know how to take care of themselves anymore. If their doctors tell them to take X, Y, and Z, they do, no questions asked. Granted, some people need these medications. My parents need their pills for high blood pressure, cholestorol, diabetes, etc. etc. Watching them taking handfuls of pills with every meal, I wonder: Would that be me in 20 years? I know I won't be young (relatively speaking) forever. My age spots will show soon, and my hair would fall out, and it's very likely that my body would need some synthetic chemicals to help it function. Still, I want to delay that process for as long as I could. And perhaps I should really look into the whole thing about holistic healthcare.


September said…
I think there are more people than we realize out there who tend to self-medicate. And many of them are in the medical field. As a former nurse, I don't run to the doctor for every little thing. But like you, I take care of myself -- drinking plenty of water, etc., but when I do have something wrong, I can pretty much diagnose myself. I recently had pain to my left deltoid area and after researching it, I came to the conclusion that I had a torn rotator cuff on my left shoulder. I medicated with over the counter meds and rested the arm. When I got in to the doctor, he confirmed it. Unfortunately, the problem is not better. I need surgery and being self employed with no insurance, there's no hope of that. So, I continue to medicate myself. On occasion, when pain is severe, I'll take a codeine left over from oral surgery a year ago. It is not necessarily what I want to do but what I have to do.
Ray Wong said…
I, too, have pain in my (right) deltoid area. I wonder if I have a torn rotator cuff as well. Anyway, my mom's a retired nurse so she does a lot of self-medication, and I guess I rubbed off of her. Like I said, when I got really sick in California, my mom basically nursed me back to health with her meds.
rosemerry said…
I try and eat healthy. I'm getting into organic food slowly. I don't want to eat all the hormones the cows are fed.

rosemerry from AW
Ray Wong said…
I love the Whole Food Market. I think every neighborhood should have one of those. Also, check out your local farms -- some of them provide organic produce for local families; it's like you own a piece of the farm for a very reasonable cost.
Anonymous said…
The highly popular sleep medication ambien is used for short term sleep treatment only, i.e. for 7 to 10 days and it is known that Ambien is a prescription-based drug and hence should be used only after getting hold of a doctor’s prescription. Use Ambien as per the instructions of the doctor to cure your sleep problems and bear in mind that this medicine is likely to become ineffective if used for a long term and hence the use of this drug should be strictly supervised by a physician.

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