The U.S. has the highest imprisonment rate in the world. More than seven of every 1,000 Americans are behind bars. That’s more than 30% higher than Cuba… over 40% higher than Russia… and more than double the rate in Belarus.
Why are so many Americans behind bars? The “War on Drugs” is a big contributor. Tens upon tens of thousands of our fellow citizens are locked up for possession of tiny amounts of drugs.
At the same time, a bigger drug abuse problem goes almost unreported… and virtually ignored by authorities. It’s a problem that touches almost every family and puts countless thousands at risk every year.
If you guessed it’s prescription drugs, you’re right. But it’s not the abuse of prescription drugs by patients or addicts.
It’s the abuse of prescription drugs by the medical mainstream. And it’s far more common than you might imagine.
Misuse and Abuse by Prescription
Not long ago, I wrote to you about antipsychotic use in cases of dementia. No antipsychotic drug is FDA-approved for dementia. But doctors still routinely prescribe these powerful drugs inappropriately.
I’ve also written to you about doctors over-prescribing opioids. I highlighted the fact that there’s virtually no evidence they’re effective for chronic pain.
But did you know a recent study went even further? Researchers at Brown University compared opioids to ibuprofen in patients who’d been in car accidents. They found opioids were no more effective than ibuprofen.
They also found opioid users were 17.5% more likely to still be taking pain medication after six weeks. This finding suggests the beginnings of dependence.
Even worse, the study’s lead author slammed the science behind opioid use. “You’d think there would be a wealth of studies comparing our ‘go-to’ pain meds,” said ER doc Francesca Beaudoin, “but there just aren’t.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
An Apparent Case of Valuing Money Over Health
The problem is so bad, NBC News titled a story on the issue, “The American Greed Report.”
According to NBC, a third of Americans suffer with chronic pain… generating $24 billion in sales of pain-management drugs. And the prescription bonanza has spun out of control.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 99% of the doctors they surveyed prescribed opioid drugs for longer than the suggested three-day period.
Over-prescribing has become a way of life for American doctors. In part, it’s a way to satisfy patient expectations. Many patients now assume their doctor will offer a prescription for whatever ails them – regardless of whether it will help or not.
But it’s also a way to satisfy drug companies… which offer doctors plenty of perks. Nobody wants their monthly lunch – or those free “educational” seminars at golf resorts – to disappear.
Whatever the cause, the problem is almost universal.
Too Many Drugs… Too Little Benefit
A 2016 survey revealed just how widespread the problem is.
In this survey, 27% of the doctors responding said antibiotics are often prescribed when they can’t help.
Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria. Giving them to someone with a viral infection is pointless. Antibiotics don’t affect viruses.
Yet doctors routinely prescribe antibiotics for viral infections… because it satisfies the patient’s desire to have the doctor “do something.” Think of it this way…
You go to the doctor for a nasty sinus infection. She can take one of two routes. She could say, “Go home, keep warm, drink plenty of fluids, and you’ll be fine in 7 – 10 days.”
Or, she can say, “Go home, keep warm, drink plenty of fluids, take these pills three times a day, and you’ll be fine in 7 – 10 days.”
Which sounds more like your doctor has helped you?
Exactly. The problem is, the antibiotic you take won’t speed your recovery by even a second. But it will help build drug-resistant bacteria.
Meaning, the next time you have a bacterial infection, that antibiotic may be useless.
According to the CDC, almost half of all antibiotic prescriptions are pointless. But those unnecessary prescriptions sure line the drug companies’ pockets…
… with money you could probably use for other things.
Be Brave: Ask Questions
Sometimes, your doctor will suggest a drug you really need. But not always. And you should be on guard for the difference.
Remember: You’re paying the bills. You have the right to question any course of treatment.
But you don’t have to do it in a confrontational way. Most doctors will respond positively to a patient who shows an interest in finding the best course of treatment.
Be positive… be respectful. Ask questions politely. And don’t sound accusatory.
Most doctors respond positively to a patient who wants to take a more active part in their treatment. If your doctor doesn’t… Well, maybe it’s time to find another doctor.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
Walmsley, R., “World Prison Population List,” ICPS. 2013.
“Despite FDA Warning, Antipsychotic Medications are Still Used in Older Patients with Dementia,” PsychCongress.com. Nov 19, 2014.
Preidt, R., “Opioids No Better Than Ibuprofen for Pain After Car Crash: Study,” MedlinePlus.gov. Nov 28, 2016.
Cohn, S., “The American Greed Report: Is your doctor prescribing too much medication? Watch for the signs,” CNBC.com. Mar 11, 2017.
Thompson, D., “U.S. Doctors Still Over-Prescribing Drugs: Survey,” WebMD.com. Dec 5, 2016.
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