TUCSON, Ariz., March 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Recalling Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel Brave New World, where the totalitarian government kept citizens happy with a drug called "soma," Marilyn Singleton, M.D., warns about "The Soma-tizing of America" in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
"Nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug," Dr. Singleton notes. And "20 percent are on five or more prescription medications (polypharmacy)."
The use of psychoactive drugs is extremely common. "About one in 10 Americans aged 12 and over and nearly one-quarter of women between ages 50 and 64 take antidepressants." And sales of opioid or narcotic painkillers have quadrupled since 1999.
Illicit drug use is an enormous problem, with 7,800 new users per day. And so is misuse of prescription drugs: "Fifty-two million people age 12 and over have used prescription drugs nonmedically at some point in their lives."
Medical use of drugs to control behavior is shockingly high. According to one government study, one-third of nursing home patients with dementia were prescribed an antipsychotic medication as an off-label use to treat behavioral symptoms—despite black-box warnings of an increased risk of death. Psychotropic drugs that affect brain function are given to children on Medicaid at a rate four times higher than other children, and to children in foster care at a rate three times higher than to other children. As many as 10,000 toddlers may be receiving psychostimulant drugs like methylphenidate (Ritalin).
Use of psychoactive medication could become the "new normal," Dr. Singleton warns. "Scores of undeniable facts confirm that pharmaceuticals have become woven into the fabric of our lives." While medications have saved countless lives, "we have to beware of creating self-inflicted opium wars. After all, brain imaging studies of drug-addicted individuals show changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control."
Unquestionably, "bodily pain and psychological problems are real and can be life-changing. However, purveyors of pharmaceuticals have convinced many basically healthy people that an unchanging affect is preferable to experiencing life's bumps in the road."
The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.
SOURCE Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)