Do you feel medication is prescribed too extensively in modern society? Are we discarding traditional methods of staying healthy that require more effort in exchanging for simply taking a pill a day to ensure good health? Is this acceptable? Do we even need to worry about medicinally treating less severe problems at all? These questions might be applied to both medications for physiological and psychological conditions.
Medication is definitely prescribed too extensively in modern Western society. Medication is also a very broad term, not limited to just pills, but ointments, liquids, powders, and even food--such as certain medicinal plants. However, as indicated by WithoutReason
's initial post and the subsequent responses, I will just limit the discussion to pills. I feel like this topic is going to definitely be more debate oriented than philosophically argumentative, simply because so much of it is over the controversy of methodology, but I am prepared :Cara_2:
said, one of the huge problems is that there is too much marketing to the consumers today. This means that if Joeblow sees an advertisement on T.V. saying "Do you suffer from headaches, nausea, a general reaction to normal
outdoors environments, then ask your local or family doctor for X," then when Joeblow walks into the doctor's office the doctor is going to be pressured to give the patient the medication--whether Joeblow needs it or not. To be frank, these commercials put many consumers into the position to which they feel as though they can diagnose their own symptoms by providing over simplified & generic checklists for people to ask themselves about. So if a doctor refuses to give such a 'self-educated' patient their medication for any number of moral reasons, the patient can simply get a different doctor. Imagine the amount of pressure this puts on doctors. I will make my first claim here: pharmaceutical companies are businesses. They care about profit and selling products and should almost never be confused with being altruistic simply by the claims that their products are supporting to 'cure'; and this brings us to my next topic.
One of the worst characteristics of the Western medical institution [sic system] is that most scientists, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and consumers work under the ideology that medicine should first and foremost aim to be an eliminative system. This ideally attempts to heal people by directly eliminating
what it bad rather than by a more holistic view of the human body and the role of medicine. Here is an example of a directly eliminative (aka. non-holistic) vs. a holistic approach: Western medicine would do studies of thousands of people to try to find a particular cause of something bad, then they would say "Eliminate it," while much non-Western medicine would locate the item doing harm and say "Balance it." The holistic approach is to say that the object of initial harm is not in balance with the rest of the system, for example if a person has high cholesterol, then it is partially because they are eating too much salt not
that salt is inherently bad (something that Western medicine is much more practiced and prone to saying). Therefore, something I am willing to also claim is that Western medicine does excellent work in identifying particular causes, but that it does terrible in contextualizing the particulars to the system as a whole. It should be no wonder, then, that what Western science has seen in--at least--the last 50-years is that when we eliminate
one problem, a whole host of others just seem to pop up in its place. The point of this is that the pharmaceutical industry has been studied and been shown to be directly reflective in its growth to this trend of thinking in Western medicine. No larger does this distinction of holism arise than in the field of Nutrition, and therefore, this is the next area of trouble I would like to move into.
Nutrition is concerned with the amount
of nutrients necessary to support life. Amount
holds a very encompassing usage in nutrition, by amount
we mean not only simply the number and types, but the balance
. I think this is apparent when one thinks about how we could even determine the number of a particular nutrient without knowing how it interacts with all of the other nutrients. Thus, naturally, the balance of nutrients comes into play. On a less important note to this discussion, "support life" is not merely concerned with the minimum
amount, but with the best
amount, this leads towards a broad notion of life
in which nutritionists also wonder about all of the types of lives (e.g. optimal, worst, etc.) and which amounts of nutrients will lead towards those. I bring this topic up because nutrition has clearly always been concerned with a mostly holistic notion of health, that through the balance of optimal ingredients we naturally rid ourselves of most adverse health effects. Food as health
is a very important part of the field of nutrition, but this idea has been given up in favor of the pharmaceutical companies slogan which is 'You can't do anything about your health and body, only our drugs can.' The view that many people seem to have these days is 'if I am sick, I should see my medical doctor to check which drugs I can get to help.' This reliance on drugs over first consulting which things we are doing wrong nutritionally that might have been causing a rash of sicknesses, for example, is not the dominant habit of our current society by far. It's quite amazing to think about, because it is food that we ingest every single day, yet it is our current habit that we don't consider something we ingest to play such a large role in our daily health. When you think about it, our body gets over 95% of it's content from
Simply put (claim #3? :Cara_2:), one large reason that most people are taking too much medication is because our current society has been promoting these types of companies as being able to do the 'hard work' for us. Joeblow doesn't need to concern himself with nutrition--food as medicine.
Instead, he can put all of the concern into companies to do it for him and then give him the solution. "But this is not how it works Joeblow." The fatal problem is that:[INDENT]A) Pharmaceutical companies are rarely ever altruistic in nature. They are businesses and want to sell their products like any other business
B) The concern of the consumers to care about their health in a holistic fashion has thus been deteriorated into a simplified non-holistic approach, because companies cannot sell the most products if their products require the customers to do most of the work themselves. Therefore, to take away the work of the consumers they ask as little as they can and promote as much as they can, and the consumers have since taken the view that everything can be fixed with a short, simple solution.
[/INDENT]It's quite humorous to think about, because much of the pharmaceutical industry has actually become the exact purporters of "magical remedies" and "miracle cures" that it set out not to be.
I agree with Aedes
conclusion that there is a "lack of well-designed research trials to show whether a given medication is safe, efficacious, and cost-effective." However, I would like to make a particular point to state the lack of funding towards nutrition and nutrients in foods especially when compared to the national and governmental funding of drug companies.
One more huge concern is with the methods in which drug companies and the overall Western medical institution evaluate the usefulness of drugs. This is a huge can of worms here, but there are some
very dubious methods that some companies/institutions use to evaluate the usefulness of their drugs. For example, if a person takes a drug and because of the drug starts to develop other problems and must then take drugs for these (the common downward spiral of drug taking that I believe we are all too familiar with), then the cause of death cannot be marked as having anything to do with the drug(s). Rather, even if the person died of organ failure that can be shown to be a direct cause of the drug(s), then it is attributed to the illness--not the cumulative effects of the drug(s). This skews a tremendous amount of the results on the benefits
of drugs. I believe this can be most noticeably seen in effects of immunization studied in dozens of books (please inquire for a source list if you are interested in reading more material about this).
Lastly, I would like to clarify that I have cut-short the depth of nearly all of the topics here. Thus if you are interested in reading more and/or are concerned that there may be, for any number of reasons, a lack of academic and professional research into these topics, then rest assured that this is definitely not the case. There is much layering to be found whether it be from theories of nutrition, studies conducted on the marketing of pharmaceutical companies, methodologies of medical inquiry, or simply the approaches to viewing organic/non-organic system interactions in nature.