Studies in recent years have indicated that Americans are consuming more prescription drugs than most other first world countries combined. By some estimates, it’s a $3,700,000,000 market and growing. And, this dollar amount doesn’t include the medical costs of adverse drug interactions and side effects which often have their own costly figures. All this leads to the question, “Does America Have a Drug Problem?”
In the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, when I got sick, my doctor typically wrote a prescription for an antibiotic, just in case, even if it was not medically necessary. I suspect that this practice taught several generations of Americans to rely on prescription medications for just about every ailment. This theory could be way off base. But, looking at our dependence on prescription drugs, you have to wonder how we became such a drugged up nation.
According to data released by the Mayo Clinic just a few years ago, nearly 70% of Americans are on at least one prescription drug. And, about 20% are on 5 or more drugs, which are not always prescribed by the same doctor. If you think this might be a recipe for disaster, you’re right. Roughly 1,300,000 people end up in emergency rooms due to adverse drug reactions. Just under 10%, around 120,000 people, die from those events.
In the past 20 years, prescription drug use has nearly doubled,
while the population has only increased by about 21%.
Are all these drugs making us healthier or are they just helping the drug companies to rake in greater revenues? The data would indicate that Americans aren’t getting healthier. This certainly correlates with the increase in consumption of prescription drugs.
The logic seems pretty simple:
More Disease = More Prescriptions
How do we reverse this trend? We can start by having our doctors review our medications. In one survey, over 70% of patients who asked their doctor for a review, were able to eliminate at least on prescription medication. The other option is for us to take greater control by seeking out healthier options for our kitchens and elsewhere. As is the case with most diseases, prevention is the cure.
So, does America have a drug problem?
Comment below to tell us what you think.