One of the things that has puzzled me for years is the following question: How can a prescription make it ‘OK’ to take mind-altering drugs? As a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was assailed with messages from the ‘Just say no!’ campaign, and my non-Jewish school was constantly giving talks about the dangers of doing drugs.
The message that came across was loud and clear: drug users are risking their health, and even their lives by using drugs. They won’t be able to hold down a job, and they’ll be social outcasts and economic failures, aka ‘the dregs of society’. It’s hard to think of a more scary prospect, for an aspiring Jewish yuppie…
But that wasn’t all: time and again, we were also warned away from drug dealers, those evil people who were making money and gaining influence over large swathes of naïve people, by getting them hooked on drugs.
Marijuana is bad!
Cocaine is really bad!
Heroin is really, really bad!
Sure, you’ll feel good, amazing even, for the first few times, but then you’ll quickly get caught in the ‘drug net’ where you’re using more and more gear for ever-decreasing returns.
I think you’re with me so far, yes? Drugs are B.A.D. They kill people, they take away their ability to function and think, they can have a seriously negative impact on their quality of life and will to live, and ultimately, they detract from the person’s essential humanity, or soul, encouraging them to act in all sorts of nasty, evil, selfish ways to satisfy their habit.
So now, let me ask the question again: why is marijuana bad, but Prozac is OK? Why is cocaine bad, but Ritalin is ‘good’? Why is heroin ‘bad’, but the incredibly addictive Ativan is readily prescribed at the drop of a hat?
What it is about the magic word ‘prescription’ that makes it OK, or even encouraged for people to start using mind-altering medications, many of which are seriously addictive, and all of which come along with a huge range of side affects, some of which cause irreversible brain damage and even fatalities?
Over the next couple of posts this week, I want to take a more in-depth look at what’s really going on with psychotropic drugs, and why the ‘drug trap’ is operating just as dangerously with psychiatric medicine, and putting milllions of users’ mental and physical health on the line, even if they are ‘on prescription’.