40-year-old Lara Chase had no clue when her husband Jamie did not wake up after previous night’s sleep. After a few minutes of trying to wake him, she found that Jamie was turning blue. She immediately summoned an ambulance. Even then, she did not know that her husband is heavily drugged and would pass away in the emergency room of the hospital. Lara lost her husband because of his self-medication habit. She did not have any clue about this habit of her husband till the doctors examined him post-death and confirmed that he had taken heavy duty prescription pain killers with an anti-anxiety drug. This was a shock to Lara as Jamie is a hale and healthy man with no chronic diseases or ill conditions. What went wrong then? Why did Jamie take prescription drugs without a doctor’s consultation?
Online drug mills: Hundreds of Americans are becoming victims of self-medication with the advent of the internet and online pharmacies. Though the pharmacies themselves are not to be blamed for this, they too play a role in encouraging people to buy medications without consulting their physicians. Some of these online drugstores are pharmacies selling medications without prescription. People, inspite of FDA’s warning, flock to these sites to buy medications that are not on their prescription. Such medicines include narcotic painkillers, sleeping pills, male potency or ED drugs like Viagra and Cialis, stimulants like Ritalin, sedatives like Xanax and Valium, weight loss drugs, premenstrual syndrome-healing drugs, drugs for depression, anti-inflammatories, anta-acids, anti-allergy drugs etc. There are also many drugs (like Diprivain) which are not sold in local pharmacies. Many foreign pharmacies sell counterfeit, un-authentic and highly-potent drugs that should not be taken without doctor’s consultation. All this illegal drug-selling has made many online pharmacies into drug mills that dish out drugs when and where people want them.
Victims of self-medication or over-medication: Many Americans have become victims of this rut of self-medication, including children, teens, adults and senior citizens. People who fight depression, anxiety, shyness and several types of abuse have taken to self-medication to overcome their problems. They abuse their regular prescription drugs in order to fight their problems. Doctors have started noticing this over-medication epidemic. A study titled, ‘America, the land of the medicated’ states that the amount of prescriptions filled have swelled by two-thirds, more than 3.5 billion prescriptions a year. Kevin Trudeau in his book, ‘Natural Cures They Don’t Want You To Know About’ states that an average American has over 30 different prescription and non-prescription drugs in their medicine cabinet.
New problems with cyber-medicine: With the advent of the internet, there are two new problems: 1. people have a new way to access drugs through online pharmacies, 2. they get to research about diseases and symptoms through online information. Most often self-diagnosis starts with the internet, people start researching on their problems and think they have diagnosed their diseases and then, go to buy medications online.
Are you or a loved one self-medicating? The over-medication syndrome has caught the fancy of almost everyone around. Even you maybe a victim of such a thing. So first, you need to find out if you or your loved one is self-medicating. Below are a few tips to do that:
1. Watch your behavior. Are you logging on to the internet to research on your symptoms more often? Are you coming to conclusions from what you read there? Do you tend to think that you have a particular health condition after researching on it online? Do you buy medications based on your conclusions without consulting your doctor? Then, maybe, you are a victim of over-medication.
2. How will you find if your loved ones are self-medicating? Your loved ones, spouse, children or other family members maybe self-medicating without your knowledge. They may hide this from you, but you can always find out, if you are alert to their behavior. Do they often get strange packages from foreign places? Do you see pill bottles (other than the prescribed ones) in the trash can? Do their credit card statements show purchases made abroad? Also, check if they are healthy and lively as they used to be. If you find them too drowsy, chances are they are taking some unhealthy drugs.