Adulting

So adulting is hard. It’s not what you imagine when you’re a little kid. Yes, you are able to stay up late and you don’t have to listen to mom and dad. Yes, you can eat whatever you want, but with that also comes having to buy your own groceries – because guess what? If you don’t buy those groceries, you won’t have any food to eat. If you don’t do that dirty laundry, you won’t have any clean clothes. If you don’t set your alarm clock the night before, you will most definitely sleep through your 8am class (luckily that hasn’t happened to me yet, just my roommate, every Monday and Friday.)

There are so many things that I used to take for granted when I lived at home – there was always food, cleaning supplies, and cold medicine, and everything was just at my fingertips. Now that I’m living on my own I realize how truly lucky I was. So, thanks mom and dad.

I’m three weeks into college (when this was written) and I’m incredibly sick. And no I don’t mean homesick, which is surprising since I’m living in Massachusetts, across the country from California. But the kind of sick I mean is high fevers, throwing up, stuffy nose, headache, dizziness and cough, also known as a chest virus, also known as the flu. And it sucks. Trying to navigate through two different busses to get to class while making it to work on time and rushing back for soccer practice is enough to handle, and then to add being sick on top it is far from fun.

Sickness Creates ProblemsAnd to those who are about to go off to college, let me tell you, the first time that you get sick away from home is terrible. It might not seem like a big deal but when all you want to do is lay in your own bed but you can’t because it’s 3,112 miles away, it becomes a big deal.Well Hello, Sickness

So today, after not really being able to breathe for about a week, I finally went to the health center. I only got lost in the building about three times before I finally found the student health center. After my appointment, I was prescribed some medications that would help. Of course these were insanely expensive, and as a college student that’s an issue.

I can’t wait until next month when I have to pay my credit card bill.

Never fear though, while it might seem like I’m hating life right now, I’m not. Even though my family is far away and I low-key can’t really breath or taste anything, I have another family taking care of me right here. My teammates and friends are constantly checking on me and bring me tea and saltines, the perfect (cheap) get-well combination.

Drug Me America

Have a headache? Here’s your daily dose of Motrin. Bad anxiety? Here’s some Xanax. Depression? Sinequan. Chronic pain? Oxycodone. Name a problem, and there’s a chemical cocktail waiting for you on some shelf somewhere.

This isn’t about disregarding the benefit that pharmaceuticals have had on people of all ages and backgrounds. Rather, it’s about shedding light on the evils of prescription drugs, and how we need to face this arising problem.

Nevertheless, pharmaceuticals have given the dying a fighting chance, helping many to overcome problems with anxiety, depression, or chronic pain, and even allowing the elderly to live a comfortable life.

Still, despite all this good, there is a downside. That downside is blatant fraud, loopholes, and a competitive market that, in many instances, has been hijacked. That combined with the fact there’s an epidemic of over-prescribed prescriptions running awry in the United States leaves a bad taste in the country.

To give perspective to how large the pharmaceutical market is, the average American spends $1,000 per year on pharmaceuticals, and seven out of 10 Americans are on at least one prescription. That is 70% of 325 million people, which, multiplied by 1,000 equals 227.5 billion dollars in annual revenue by Big Pharma JUST in the U.S.

This enormous market thrives on the United States’ shortage of price regulations and the unhealthy American lifestyle, which includes overeating, little exercise, and hours of anxiety-provoking work – for which pills then have to be the replacement.

Antibiotics make up 17% of all prescriptions, followed by anti-depressants (13%) and then highly addictive opioids (13%).

Once again, it is important to emphasize the importance of pharmaceuticals. Usually, common chronic issues like obesity would heavily affect the average life expectancy. However, the U.S. ranks 26 in life expectancy at an average of 80.1 years, possibly thanks to high rates of diagnoses.

With good new including the increasing life expectancy, there must also be bad news. As Americans’ use of pharmaceutical drugs has increased, so has drug abuse.

Prescriptions are being given out constantly –  67.2% of office physicians give out prescriptions, amassing to 2.3 billion drugs being provided/ordered. These tend to be the heavier, more dangerous drugs (like opioids) that doctors must order directly.

Photo Credit: http://www.livescience.com

Over-prescribing has become somewhat common, even when doctors use their best judgement. Doctors have little time to spend with patients, and many patients have been exposed to ads influencing them to request prescriptions from their doctors.

The abuse of prescriptions drugs isn’t a new phenomenon. However, the extent to which prescription drugs are being used is now becoming wider known. Also, the amount that is actually being reported might just be the tip of the iceberg.

For example, more people die from overdosing on prescription drugs than overdosing on all other illicit drugs combined.

That is absolutely insane, considering the war on drugs. Yes, the war on drugs is an attempt to curve the rise of crime rates that come hand-in-hand with illicit drugs, but it is also an attempt to stop the death of addicts. It’s as if the U.S. government sees the problem of legal drug abuse as perfectly fine to ignore as long as they get to heavily tax the billion-dollar market.

In 2008, 20% of Americans abused prescription drugs. Because this was a report from over seven years ago, it is likely that those statistics have gone up significantly, and have possibly even doubled.

Attempts by the U.S. federal government to curve this epidemic have been laughable. Only 1/10 citizens who are abusing prescriptions have being treated across the country.

Yes, there has been an increase of funding for prescription drugs in an attempt to fight the epidemic, but the effort was small and useless compared to the problem itself.

What statistics would persuade the U.S. to largely fund treatment for prescription abusers and safety belts to prevent so many deaths.

For instance, drug overdoses outnumber car accidents in 29 states. The U.S. made the law requiring a seatbelt illegal for people’s benefit. Yet today we still see a fairly weak safety belt around prescriptions, even though the deaths tied to them are only increasing. That doesn’t really make sense.

And still nothing has changed.