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Soulful Sundays: Drug-Free America

drug - "a medicine or substance that has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body."

The United States of America has a drug problem. A pharmaceutical drug problem. Over 66% of the population takes prescription medication on a daily basis. Those with chronic diseases are on an average of 9-13 drugs depending on age. Over 30 pharmaceutical companies are in the S&P 500, a list of the highest-grossing companies in the US. These numbers are unmatched by any other country and any other period of human history. We are the world's richest country, spend the highest amount on healthcare, yet over half of our population suffers from some kind of chronic disease. At this point, it is ok to start feeling a little mad. I know I am.

So what is the source of this madness? We can largely point to our own economic and scientific success as a country as the primary culprits. In the US we have created a culture based around convenience, mass production, and consumerism. Individualism and upward mobility are our nation's mantras. We are far too likely to sacrifice the possibility of a better tomorrow, if we can secure an easier today. In order to change this cultural paradigm, we must make a choice on the individual level to prioritize long-term health over short-term panaceas. Translated into the world of drugs, this means doing the hard and boring work of consistent and healthy exercise, diet, sleep, and stress reduction. In other words, we must decide to take steps to leave as many of the pharmaceuticals behind and fully embrace the body's natural healing abilities.

If you are taking pharmaceuticals and want to get off of them, you are not alone, but there are precautions that must be considered. There are medications that should a) never be discontinued (ie certain anti-psychotics, insulin in the case of insulin-dependent diabetes, and other life-saving drugs) and b) should never be quit cold-turkey. The good news is that many drugs fall into this second category. In fact, the majority of prescribed drugs in the US do. We are talking about sleep aids, proton pump inhibitors, statins, anxiety and ADD medication, anti-inflammatories, steroids, blood pressure medications, blood thinners, diabetes medications, and many more. With the right approach (and barring no genetic anomalies, such as hypercholesterolemia) you should be able to wean off of these medications. Sometimes this takes weeks, sometimes months, and sometimes years, but it is very possible.

In full disclosure, helping people feel better through healthy choices is what we do best at our clinic. We often see people who have been started on meds to solve a problem that has to do with their lifestyle. These meds work for a short time and then other negative health issues arise, which warrants more treatments and more meds. The cycle goes on and on. Pharmaceutical companies (and many parts of the healthcare system) do not have our best interests in mind. Their goals are monetary. Period. So, I challenge you today to take the lead in planning for your long-term health. Leave behind the sick-care system that we have established and stop looking for quick fixes. The fruits of hard work done each and every day await you.

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