Do Americans Take Too Many Drugs? “Food & Pharmacy”

IMG_0641American’s prescription drug habits are back in the headlines with the publication of a new study showing that we’re taking more meds than ever before. Is it because we’re sicker than ever and need more medicine? Possibly, says Newsweek,

“But the researchers also point out one overarching theme: The drugs that are most commonly prescribed right now are used for medical conditions that tend to afflict people who are overweight or obese. The study found that 8 of the 10 most commonly used drugs are used to manage heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, all conditions and health complications that may develop as a person gains weight.”

Or is it because we turn to medicines as a default option for our physical, emotional and spiritual conditions? Yes, says me. Collectively, we choose anxiolytics and antidepressants over the hard work of talk therapy; and antihypertensives, lipid lowering agents, and hypoglycemics over lifestyle change.

Modern pharmaceuticals are great blessings from God, capable of helping us to live longer and healthier lives. But, in general, we shouldn’t use them to minimize consequences of an ongoing unhealthy lifestyle. As followers of Jesus, if personal change is indicated, let’s admit it, accept it and begin the hard work of changing – with the help of the Holy Spirit. We may well need pills, either temporarily or for the long-term, but let’s make sure we’re doing our best to be well too.

Once again, we need to be careful of mindlessly adopting the prevailing American culture and worldview, which teaches us that many life problems are “medical problems” and that “healthcare” or “treatment” is our best (or only) answer. As I’ve been thinking about this topic, I noticed Publix’ (our local grocery chain) signage advertising “Food & Pharmacy.” Yep, that about sums it up. There’s nothing really wrong with that advertising of course, and it is convenient to be able to pick up a prescription when you’re there, but it also clearly reinforces the great importance of pills. Heck, they’re as important as your food! Or maybe not. You decide.

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Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.
– Hippocrates

Just the food for me, please.

Just the food for me, please.

UPDATE 11/11/15 – I saw this New York Times blog story, “Defeating My Anxiety,” this morning and wanted to recommend it.