Currently viewing the tag: "prescription drugs"


moneyMost people believe that money is the answer to everything. There is even a joke that, “Money may not buy happiness, but it’s better to cry in a Lamborghini than on a bicycle.” Har har har…yeah, ‘cept it ain’t necessarily true. While surveys and studies can be found to support any position, a recent Money Magazine survey (Sept 2014) showed that “what makes retirees happiest,” isn’t money, but health. Yes health! Duh! And that is what this post is about: How having money may actually be a hindrance to good health. But not for you, because you read this blog, and you take the information, assimilate it and act accordingly. Right, read on:

Retirees Happiness (Copy)This post came to my attention while discussing my cousin’s employer with my mom. Turns out the employer is an elderly man who sits on the board of a major tech company. He’s financially loaded, and he also spends much of his non-working time visiting doctors. He is on a multitude of medications—for cholesterol, for high blood pressure, for bipolar, for sleep disturbances, and on and on. We know this because my cousin is this man’s personal assistant. As I listened to this story I couldn’t help but think how this man, so representative of the average American senior with regard to his health care, was on this polypharmacy path for one simple reason: He could afford to be.

Then it got me thinking about our new “universal health” system, which essentially promotes the lifestyle I have just described. Yes it does. The premise was that everybody deserves as much modern medicine as they need. Uh huh… Let this man’s story illustrate what we become when we rely on the medical industry to guide our health decisions.

seniors medsWait Campos! That’s unfair: We do not know this man’s particular circumstances. Okay, true, but we do know a few things. As of 2012, 65 percent  of American seniors were on three or more prescription drugs, 36.7 percent were on five or more prescription drugs. We also know that many conditions today, which receive a large proportion of annual prescriptions, are lifestyle related. Take last year’s (2013-2014) most prescribed medications for instance, four of ten were for conditions that can be significantly improved (or prevented) with the proper lifestyle modifications (and I would argue that three others could be avoided with “alternative” approaches, mostly paradigm shifts). Cholesterol lowering, heartburn, blood pressure lowering, and diabetes—all preventable AND fixable with proper lifestyle modifications.

But is that the road most westerners choose? No! For whatever reasons—be it looking for easy answers, rationalizing, or the shared doctor-patient belief that only meds are truly viable—the majority of Americans (and our European and now Asian counterparts) choose the polypharmacy route over caring for their health, and I am certain that is a disease of modern affluence. We run to medical care because we can! Yes it’s the easier answer to control our dysfunctions rather than correct them through lifestyle modifications. So much easier to take a pill then walk around the block every day, pump iron, lay off the sugar, and so forth. And we have been conditioned to believe that is the only way to do it. It doesn’t matter how much information comes out extolling healthy behaviors: The average westerner runs to his or her doctor for a medical fix first—that’s what the data shows.

Low Cost HealthI actually believe that the so-called have-nots are in a better position health-wise, as they can take their health into their own hands from an early age. What we do habitually is what matters most, and so focusing on healthy behaviors soon and often will not only be best for your current health, but also will train you to look to yourself when health challenges arise. Heck yes, medical care is necessary in many circumstances; but understand that our reliance on medicating fixable conditions is deeply ingrained into your psyche by years of observation and acceptance. Evidence of lifestyle modification improving conditions like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol (if that’s even an accurate diagnosis as it is doled out today), high blood pressure and many gastrointestinal issues (like gastric reflux) abound. You do not have to be the victim of historical tradition—frankly it’s foolish.

Don’t let your ability to indulge in medical care be the definitive factor in how you approach your health. Use our incredible medical system for crisis care, and you take care of the lifestyle part. Believe me when I say that you can neither buy happiness nor health. I would venture to bet that my cousin’s employer would trade his wealth any day for a return of his health. Heck I guess he is in a way now anyhow. What a crazy world we live in.


The new drug cultureI’m usually of the opinion, “Live and let live.” I mean, as long as people are given all the current and relevant information, then it’s up to them as to how they wish to live their lives (for the most part anyway). Let’s take drugs for instance: You want to shoot heroin? As long as you do it in the privacy of your own home, with no children exposed to the lifestyle, and you are not harming anyone other than yourself, AND I don’t have to pay for you, or it, through welfare programs, then go ahead—live it up!

Funny but I am certain that many of you reading this, or “still reading,” as the case may be, are shaking your heads in disapproval right now. “Live it up!? On heroin?…How irresponsible.” Yet far too many people still have no problem with doctors doling out dangerous medications like they are candy. Heck many of you are probably on your own fair share, because THAT’S the modern “health care” climate today. And the faction that’s actually aware of—and in firm opposition to—this cultural dysfunction is tiny; growing perhaps, but minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

But you are live and let live, Campos!

prescription drug overdosesRight! If people can make an informed choice… so that means they get ALL the relevant information, not just the selective sh** that were suppositorily fed by the pharmaceutical pushers and manufacturers. And before you think I’m of the Big This or Big That conspiracy club, think again: I look to the consumer as having the most responsibility because IT’S YOUR HEALTH! You better care enough, or put your life willingly in the hands of your cultural health authorities.

Face it: Most junkies know quite clearly in what ways they are f**king themselves up, and they make the choice regardless; however, they make informed choices—do you? Here’s what makes me convinced the bulk of Americans (westerners in general really) do not:

  • Deaths from drug overdose have been rising steadily over the past two decades and have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States
  • Drug overdose deaths from prescription drugs (53% in 2012) have surpassed those from recreational drugs (47%)
  • Among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes
  • In 2012, 79.9% of the 41,502 drug overdose deaths in the United States were unintentional
  • In 2012, 53%  of the 41,502 drug overdose deaths in the United States were related to pharmaceuticals
  • Most common prescription drugs leading to overdose death:
    • 70% involved opioid analgesics (aka prescription pain killers) – OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, etc
    • 30% involved benzodiazepines (sedatives) – Xanax, Valium, etc
  • People who died of drug overdoses often had a combination of benzodiazepines and opioid analgesics in their bodies

prescriptiondrugdeaths (Copy)And you know what the number one most dangerous activity one can do when it comes to prescription drugs, and that includes over-the-counter medications (like cold medicines)? Drinking alcohol while on them! Duh!

You still want those pain killers, junkie? Live it up! But understand something that every heroin addict must: each day on your (doctor prescribed) fix could just be your last. Okay now you are informed.

Well surprise, surprise–pills in the medicine cabinet pose a greater threat to children than household cleaners.  This from a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report stating that two out of every three children showing up at emergency rooms for poisoning were due to ingesting prescription drugs.  And you thought those orange canisters were child proof.

Poisonings being the number one health hazard for children makes it prudent to know which household items are causing the greatest harm.  Medications by far lead the pack–they are twice as likely to cause pediatric poisoning as cleaning substances, pesticides, personal care products and other toxic household substances.

Says Jay L. Schauben, a pharmacist and director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Jacksonville, Florida,

“Normally what occurs when someone is taking medicine on a chronic basis, they’ll leave it out.  Any pills left out are within the grasp and reach of a child. Some of the medicine can look like candy. Some of the cough syrupsare flavored and taste good. You can sort of see how that would be a disaster waiting to happen.

The drugs children most often overdose on are over-the-counter (OTC) medications, with 10% of all poisonings in children under five coming from common analgesics like Tylenol or Motrin.  Don’t forget that very young children put things in their mouths all the time–they are sampling their environment.  When common OTC meds are left out, children will likely want to try them.  Further, when hosting guests, always remember that they might be on medications, too, so keep an eye out for meds left out in guest bathroom.

Fortunately, not all kids that swallow pills overdose: only 26 deaths from 1.3 million poisonings in children 5 or younger were reported in 2008.

The best thing parents can do if they suspect medication poisoning, experts say, is to first call the Poison Help hotline: 800-222-1222. That number will connect them to the Poison Control Center nearest them.

“The only time you want to call 911 first is if the child is unarousable, the child is having difficulty breathingor the child is having convulsions or seizures,” Schauben said.

According to another expert, “More than 95 percent of the time, a child will be able to stay at home.  I don’t think just because a child got into something, the parents should automatically pack them into the car and take them to the emergency room. We can determine who needs to go to an ER or not.”

Once again,

Poison Help hotline: 800-222-1222.

Amazing as it may seem, medicines routinely taken for granted as safe are turning out to be more cause than cure.  This is especially true as they relate to drug overdoses.  For the first time in history, pharmaceuticals have caught up to illicit drugs in the number of overdoses they cause every year, according to a government report released yesterday.

As recently as five years ago, illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine led in ER visits from overdoses as compared to prescription drugs by a margin of 2:1.  But in 2008, ERs saw an estimated 1 million overdoses from over-the-counter and prescription meds–mostly painkillers and sedatives.

When it comes to ODing, painkillers are king, particularly oxycodone and hydrocodone, with ER visits from overdoses more than doubling from 2004 to 2008.  Data was collected from more than 200 U.S. hospitals.  Although many of the cases were overdoses, some were from mixing drugs, or mixing drugs and alcohol.

I find this news particularly disturbing, although not very surprising.  All one need do is take inventory of all recent celebrity drug overdoses to observe the unfortunate trend.  When I was a kid, many a celebrity OD’d and died–John Belushi from speedballs, Jimi Hendrix from barbiturates, and River Phoenix from heroin and coke (to see a list of celebrity drug deaths).  Today seems no different–celebrities dropping like flies–however, they are doing so from legal prescription meds.  Michael Jackson (lethal dose of propofol along with two sedatives), Heath Ledger (oxycodone, hydrocodone, temazepam, and others), Anna Nicole Smith (lethal combination of chloral hydrate and various benzodiazepines), and on and on and on.

As I said, no surprises, though.  Retail sales of five major leading painkillers nearly doubled over an eight-year period from 1997 and 2005, according to Drug Enforcement Administration figures.  The only thing I find real surprising is that “health officials are not sure why painkiller abuse rose so dramatically.”  Well, duh!!!  Doctors today write prescriptions like they are going out of style, for everything from sniffles to hangnails.  What the heck do they think is going to result?  I wouldn’t care that much except many of these arrogant stethoscope holders absolutely refuse to accept so-called alternative methods for treating pain.  Chiropractic, acupuncture, yoga therapy and massage are all possible long-term solutions to pain, but doctors aren’t passing referrals.  Oh, one of those alternatives didn’t work?  Try another–every one of those beats a daily Fentanyl patch.

Counting on painkillers is not the answer, docs.  And consumers better listen, too.  The man in the white coat isn’t responsible for your lack of discipline, your lack of initiative to find a real solution to your physical problems, or your lack of understanding that you aren’t supposed to mix your hydrocodone…with coke!  Geez.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Nick Campos - All Rights Reserved.