One Nation Under Medication

  A Mayo Clinic study revealed that 70% of adults in the U.S. are taking a prescription medication daily. Antibiotics are the most common, so if we exclude those, the number drops to 55% and the average number of prescription drugs taken by each person is four. That’s right folks; 55% of the adult population takes four or more prescription dugs on a daily basis.

A recent Consumers Report survey revealed exactly the same results. We have voluntarily given up responsibility for our own health and handed it over to the pharmaceutical industry; and at great expense.

The “Physicians Desk Reference” is a book published annually, which lists the details of all prescription drugs available in the U.S. I randomly opened this book 100 times and read about the drug highlighted on that page. These are my findings.

  • One drug prevented something. It happened to be a hepatitis vaccine.

  • One drug cured something. It was an antibiotic.

  • The other 98 drugs neither prevent nor cure anything. They do not make us healthier. What they do is allow us to live longer, by controlling the symptoms of our multitude of chronic diseases.

The old saying; “follow the money” offers ample explanation.

There is little money to be made preventing or curing anything. Have you ever seen a television advertisement for an antibiotic? Ever wondered why not? How long do you take an antibiotic for? One week, two weeks or maybe even a month (if the infection is severe). Then you are cured. There is little money to be made in a cure.

The big money in pharmaceuticals comes from developing drugs which control (not cure) the symptoms of our chronic medical problems and allow us to live longer. We purchase these drugs and consume them for the duration of our lives. From a purely business viewpoint, this is a brilliant strategy.

The great paradox: The Center for Disease Control estimates that 85% of all prescription medications are taken for conditions that we brought upon ourselves by our poor lifestyle choices. Most (not all) of these medical conditions are completely reversible, if we are willing to change our lifestyle choices.  

Our goal should be to be medication free. Although this is not possible for everyone, in many cases, drugs can be eliminated or at least reduced to the minimum amount required to achieve the desired effect. Things like stress reduction, adequate sleep, correcting nutritional deficiencies and exercise can dramatically reduce or eliminate our need for many medications.

The first step is to do your own research and start making those beneficial life style changes that will improve your health problems. Then, under the supervision of your physician, start reducing or eliminating the medications. Do not stop taking your medications without consulting your physician.

This process will require some effort on your part, but it will definitely be worth it. Healthy aging does not require multiple medications. It requires a desire for a better life, a plan and a commitment.

Dr. David Bardsley is the author of Smarter Next Year: The Revolutionary Science for a Smarter, Happier You (Simple Truths; 2019).