For Your Consideration: When Doves Cry

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Our newest column – by Janice Taylor – is her personal viewpoint of current issues and the City of SeaTac. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff. We are seeking additional regular columnists to reflect different opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at [email protected].

by Janice Taylor

On April 21st, the music industry and world lost a great. Prince Rogers Nelson sprang onto the scene in the early 1980’s, bringing a creativity, sensuality and professionalism rarely seen. He mentored numerous musicians and gave his hometown of Minneapolis a hero. He was very private and very generous. Aside from his many amorous liaisons, he seemed beyond reproach. No drink, no drugs.

Being a decades-long fan, I was devastated at his death. More painful is the thought prescription painkillers caused it. I’ve had time to digest this, and I still come up nauseated. God, haven’t drugs done enough damage to this country?

What is it with this country and drugs? What started this slide, the bottom at which we all know someone devastated by them? Drugs have been around for millennia. As long as man has suffered pain and illness, he has sought remedy in herbs, potions, animal therapies, mineral therapies, chemical therapies—some successful, some not so much, some utterly detrimental. The quest rages to this day. But somewhere along the way, the altruism took back seat to narcissism and greed.

I’m a tail-end Baby Boomer, and my generation accomplished many great things. However, I do accuse my generation of screwing a lot up. We were the notorious “Me” generation, and oh we got full of ourselves. Our protesting stopped a war, empowered women’s liberation and civil rights, and drove an economic growth and stability previously unknown. We had our sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and didn’t let the world rain on our parade. We turned on, tuned out, tripped the light fantastic and along the way, cleared the road for a drug for every occasion.

Why did we make drug use so okay? Before us, marijuana, opiates, psychedelics were consigned to the fringes. Now they’re everywhere. Big business jumped in for the moneyed ride, making “legitimate” substitutes for pretty much every drug once demonized. And we swallow by the millions.

Think about this. In the early 1960’s, Valium and Librium exploded as the answer to all harried modern society’s stresses, even inspiring the Rolling Stones song, “Mother’s Little Helper”. Doctors prescribed Valium like candy—in 1978 alone, 2.3 BILLION tablets were sold. Today, the antidepressant market is valued at billions of dollars per year.

Prescribing physical pain-killing drugs is out of control. In 2014, 5.4 million OxyContin prescriptions were filled. Oxy makes up about 30% of the market, so do the math. Moneywise, painkillers rake in over $8 billion per year. The Sackler family, owners of PurduePharma, pushers of OxyContin, are the 16th richest in the U.S. It’s now coming out how much blood covers that money.

With all our fun and accomplishment, when did we boomers become scared of pain? 60 is NOT the new 40. I know we all have different pain levels. I’m told mine is high, but I’ve trained myself to deal with the joint pain years of performing and concrete work created. I’ll never dance or dead lift like I used to, and I’m okay with that. I already know I do more physical activity than most 30-somethings. I’ve nothing to prove. While I might have more money and time for activities, if my body begs to differ, it wins out. No more partying likes it’s 1999.

Not many feel they can sit still long enough to let their bodies heal naturally. Lower pain levels make people think they’re getting back to “normal” quicker. They report that to their doctors, and their doctors feel justified in prescribing more. Drug companies picked up on this. Watch day or prime-time television for even one hour, and you see who’s being targeted. Mostly age 50 and up. Trying to guilt us for our sensitive stomachs, stiff joints, incontinence and declining sex lives. Certainly pain has no place in modern society.

Painkillers have their place, no doubt. But pain is part of the body’s defense mechanism, telling us in no uncertain terms that we need to chill, be it post-surgery, post-injury or post day-to-day living.

We as a society need to seriously rethink our relationship with pain and painkillers. We Boomers have the political clout to push meaningful education and reform. We first must accept parades wind down, oftentimes rain falls, and despite pain and sorrow, we manage to survive. Let’s become good examples. Haven’t we buried enough too soon?


Antidepressants and Advertising:

Google “number of prescriptions by age” for some interesting reading.

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