“One day, about four weeks after our first appointment, my supply of tranquilizers was very low, and I felt desperate. The psychiatrist had already refused to give me more than my allotted amount. So I decided to visit some new doctors to see if I could get additional prescriptions. I planned to pretend that I had no other doctor, and that I’d never taken tranquilizers before.”
How does one find him or herself in such desperation? No one expects to end up there. Generally, it starts innocently with legitimately prescribed treatment for some ailment. Inadvertently, patients become hooked on the medication.
And our nation’s over-dependence on prescription medication is growing. According to The Mayo Clinic:
“The percentage of people who took at least 1 prescription drug in the past month increased from 44% in 1999-2000 to 48% in 2007-2008.”
This might not seem particularly noteworthy unless you consider this:
“Prescription drug abuse has become the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. Medication-related adverse outcomes in US hospitals and emergency departments increased 52% between 2004 and 2008.”
They also report that the top three prescription medications are now antibiotics, antidepressants, and opioid pain killers.
As one of the top three prescription drugs, antidepressant use in the United States has increased nearly 400% since 1988 according to a report by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
People who are feeling mental anguish are seeking relief. Research has shown, however, that except in cases of severe pathology the active ingredient in antidepressants is not what makes them effective. One key researcher, Dr. Irving Kirsch, mentioned on 60 Minutes that it’s not the active ingredient that makes the drugs effective; it’s largely the placebo effect.
If these drugs work because of the placebo effect, could we find another way to unleash the power of the mind to get the same or better results?
Our story continues:
“However, within an hour and a half before I could leave home, something very unusual happened. In essence, I experienced a period of mental confusion, finally followed by a clear realization that the drugs I’d been taking had no power at all to affect me. I suddenly and clearly saw that the effect of the drugs was actually mental, not physical—nothing but an illusion. This realization was not theoretical but utterly clear and obvious to me. I knew right then that the drugs I had worshiped and leaned on for 13 years were worthless.
The curse of addiction to medication of all kinds affects relationships and the ability to lead productive lives. When a temporary alleviation of symptoms turns chronic and addiction results, the solution does not always lie in more drugs or treatment. I believe it calls for paying more attention to mental and spiritual needs.
Sometimes these needs can be met through a simple reassurance and encouragement. The woman from Evanston tells us this statement by Mary Baker Eddy in her book Science and Health gave her the strength to know she could overcome her addiction:
“Citizens of the world, accept the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God,’ and be free!” (p. 158, 227)
And the happy ending to her story:
Now I knew that I would never take another pill again. I was instantly, totally free of the addictions that had enslaved me for half my life. I stopped everything—the amphetamines, barbiturates, and tranquilizers—all at once, and yet there never were any withdrawal symptoms. Looking back I can see that this was a direct result of my deep yearning to find God.”
For me, freedom is maintained through an understanding that I have a spiritual right to be healthy. I believe everyone wants to feel well and we can achieve this through opening our thought more to the the ever-present, health-giving, and loving Divine being that is always with us.
My hope is that those who suffer prescription drug over-reliance can become more naturally healthy by addressing their spiritual needs. Caring for the whole man in this way will help them feel more mentally, socially, and spiritually free.