Wednesday, April 6, 2011

TFTD - how many are not really here?

Today's Thought For The Day is brought to you by the letter D and the number 'lots and lots'.  D is for drugs.  Those who have been following my story of late would know that I've had occasion to sample quite a variety of drugs for different purposes, but the ones I'm thinking about right now are the ones that definitely alter one's mood.  I do have pain, true, and to be kind to myself decided some time back to dispense with my knee-jerk anti-meds-wherever-possible reaction and allow myself to be in less, or perhaps even no pain.

Paracetamol doesn't do it, and neither does ibuprofen.  Not that I'd ever take ibuprofen for more than a day anyway.  I can't believe it's still legal.  So the next step up is the opiates and opioids, and after much trial and error I settled into a reasonable regime.  Reasonable in that once I got used to the side-effects, I was perfectly functional whilst being in little pain for most of the time.  I could supplement with extra, other drugs if needs be for 'breakthrough' pain (wonderful terminology they use, isn't it?).

But that's the thing, you have to get used to it. And there are two ways you can go with that.  Because your perception of the world subtly but undeniably alters, you can either learn to work your mind around the drug's effects and back to a 'clearer' pre-drug state (much like developing resistance) or just give in to the stone and go zombie.  It's nice to know that you can always choose the latter state for a holiday anyway.

I have a slow-drip regime, with a transdermal patch doing the heavy lifting analgesia-wise, so it's a little different from the up/down/sideways cycle of oral drugs, but the experience has made me wonder - given the huge amount of prescriptions written for these sorts of drugs every day in Australia - indeed in the developed world - what percentage of people we see in the supermarket are off their dials on painkillers?  I'm thinking lots.  Let's say that as 1/3 of the population suffers back pain at some point in their adult lives, and they have that 1/3 of the time, then 1/9 of the people have dodgy backs at any given moment.  There's more than 10% right there.

Imagine this.  Stand still in your local shopping mall.  See the people all about you milling around, and notice that they're all getting slower, and slower, until they're barely moving, like they're in treacle, and they almost, but not quite, completely stop.  Now, place a little yellow light above the head of 1 in 5 people.  I reckon that's the amount of folks with some painkillers in them affecting their mood somewhat.  Now look around again.  1 in 8 people are on antidepressants at any given time, so give them a light too.  Now do another 10% for those using prescription and other drugs illegally.  Don't forget to do just under a quarter of all the kids on ADHD meds and more than 3 quarters of anyone over 65.  Now do 5% for the functional alcoholics.  Add another 5% for the undiagnosed or untreated seriously mentally ill.  Give yourself a light if you need one.  Getting pretty yellow in here, isn't it?

Is it any wonder that advertising is so effective, when so many people are not the prime determiner of their own brain chemistry?

OK, you can let them all go now, not forgetting to thank them and give them a little nod and bow of love and kindness.

Zombies don't need to eat our brains, they're eating their own.

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