Remember Grace Slick when she sang, “One Pill makes you taller and one pill makes you small, and the one your mother gives you, doesn’t do anything at all! Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall!”? The baby boomer generation will always be associate with drug use and as we age, we face drug abuse in another form. That of falling victim to being over-medicated by our doctors.
The sixties opened a Pandora’s Box on drug use and like it or not, boomers will forever be associated with the use of Marijuana, LSD, and other mind altering drugs. Many of us didn’t survive those days. Some baby boomers continue to abuse drugs and struggle with addiction but most of us found out that what drug use promised, a brave new world through chemical enlightenment, wasn’t what it delivered and chose sobriety. There are probably more baby boomers who never tried drugs than those of us who did but our generation will be remembered as the generation that, “Tuned in, dropped out, and turned on.” As boomers grow older, we face the threat of harm from drug use in the over-use and abuse of prescribed medications.
Everyone who wants to make a buck knows that in order to make big money, it is important to market to baby boomers. Those who manufacture and sell prescription drugs are no different and we are constantly bombarded with commercials for new drugs with promises of longevity and health. Almost every night on television news, there is a new breakthrough in modern medicine to report. Of course, there are also, the disclaimers with lists of side-effects and class action law suits that present the underbelly of what these drugs may deliver. Few drugs actually, heal. Instead, they create chemical dysfunction in the body that imitates wellness. It turns out that the vitamin pill that our mothers gave us was the pill that did something good for our bodies while chemicals are a mixture of good and bad. I think this is what Grace Slick’s door-mouse said, drugs promise great things and provide immediate relief but often, with side-effects that produce new illness. More often than not, side-effects are treated with another drug and it isn’t uncommon for a person to find themselves on a merry-go-round of new chronic illnesses treated with more and more medications. It is easy to become over-medicated and lose quality of life by those same drugs that promised to improve it.
Old boomers like me, who got caught up in drug abuse when we were young, know a drug dealer when we see one. They drive nice, new, shiny cars that are often, black with tinted windows. They wear dark sunglasses and may dress in black to match their fancy cars as they attempt to remain as unrecognizable as possible but also, as someone who is cool and confident. During those years when I was very sick and spent most of my free time in doctor’s waiting rooms, I often watched sales representatives for pharmaceuticals sauntering in, carrying their attaché’s, passing out free pens, and asking my doctor for a few minutes of the time that I was paying for. After spending years observing these folks and getting to know the health-care system more intimately, I began to see that they truly, were drug dealers not unlike the ones I knew when I was young. The bad part is that I also, began to see my doctors more as distributors of prescription drugs than people concerned with helping me get well. I know that isn’t true of all doctors and I know that even those of whom it is true, are just caught up in a system designed to make the people who run it rich more than with helping sick people get well. Greed is a common disease and doctors are after all, only human. They want to provide their families with the best and they like nice things, just like me. I want to think I would rise above if I were a doctor but in my heart, I know I’m susceptible to greed too. I also, know that helping people would be great if it weren’t for the people! Most of us aren’t that easy to deal with especially, when we’re sick. It is important to remember that docs are only human and not expect more of them than they are capable of delivering. Often, they simply can’t make it all better but we can hold them accountable to their oath of at least, not making things worse. They work for us and in reality, can’t do anything to us or sell us anything that we don’t allow them too. I know I’m not a medical expert but I’ve learned to be an expert on me and my health problems. I bear responsibility for the treatments I choose to undergo and I don’t undergo what I don’t fully, understand. I also, know that drugs promise much more than they actually, deliver. I’ve been burned already and it takes much more than slick television ads to fool this old boomer! I don’t trust drug dealers in any shape or form but I know that sometimes, drugs can be used with reason and improve my quality of life. The choice I make is my own. As long as I am able, I will remain in charge of my health-care.
Of course, I have not always been able to be in charge of my health-care and there will come a day when I’m no longer able to stay on top of it all. I hope I live the remainder of my life in a healthful state and pass away peacefully, in my sleep. However, that usually, isn’t the case. I know from experience not to be too prideful to ask my husband, another family member, or close friend to take charge of my health-care when I’m not able. I have signed forms that give my husband the authority to talk to doctors and health-care workers in my place if I am too sick to do so. It’s very easy to get things confused and make poor decisions when very ill or under the influence of powerful medications. When I’m that sick, my husband is good to visit the doctors with me,ask questions, and take notes. He also, helps me monitor medications so that I don’t take too much or forget to take something that I should. I may not always have someone in my life to do this for me but I will never let pride stand in my way of asking. I know what it is to be over-medicated and being too prideful to ask for help in making decisions when I was too sick to do so, is part of why I ended up in that situation.
The person I trust most with my health is my Heavenly Father and I know that He has numbered all of my days and will see to it that I live every one of them. I also, know that He allowed me to go through the experience of being over-medicated so I would turn back to depending upon Him, more than I depended upon myself, or doctors, and drugs. I am a living testimony to the harm caused by the over-use and abuse of drugs. Almost every serious problem I’ve had in my life can be traced back to the abuse of alcohol and drugs, either by me, someone important to me, or by doctors careless in the way they prescribed my medications. I hope by sharing my experiences that I can help others to see the true nature of drugs, both illegal and prescription and make my fellow boomers aware of the need to take responsibility for their own health. Dependence upon God and personal responsibility are the key for aging boomers to be able to create a safe relationship with drugs and keep ourselves from becoming over-medicated, as we grow older.