Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Is This What They Mean By Kids Playing Doctor?

The number 1, most e-mailed article from the NY Times for the past 7 days is, "Young, Assured and Playing Pharmacist to Friends"

While focusing on the experiences of a handful of individuals in their 20s and 30s, and the popular websites they peruse, the article does bring up a number of interesting points about what we, as a society, ought to do in the 21st century when young people are raised in the age of the Internet and direct-to-consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals.
"Confident of their abilities and often skeptical of psychiatrists' expertise, they choose to rely on their own research and each other's experience in treating problems like depression, fatigue, anxiety or a lack of concentration. A medical degree, in their view, is useful, but not essential, and certainly not sufficient."
The article goes on to talk about how this sort of drug taking behavior is different from illicit drug use. I'm not so sure I buy it...
"The behavior, drug abuse prevention experts say, is notably different painkillers, which is also on the rise. The goal for many young adults is not to get high but to feel better - less depressed, less stressed out, more focused, better rested."
Aren't those at least some of the many reasons people take illicit drugs -- to feel better, less depressed, less stressed out? Are we really going to start making distinctions between the different types of reasons one uses drugs, based on what the drug is that they're using?
"But doctors and experts in drug abuse also say they are flummoxed about how to address the increasing casual misuse of prescription medications by young people for purposes other than getting high."
Not surprisingly, the so-called experts on drug abuse prevention don't have any ideas for how to deal with these issues. I mean, heaven forbid we actually try EDCUATION for students in high school and college and beyond about the drugs they're seeing on TV and in their medicine cabinets at home.

The money quote is from a guy at an "under-30 mood disorder group" on the 3rd page of the article...
"You have to do research on your own because the research provided to you [by pharmaceutical companies via doctors] is not based on an objective source of what may be best."
Seven Letters to the Editor were published in response to this article, including one from Steve Pasierb, Pres. & Chief Exec., Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Never missing an opportunity to scare parents and blame teenagers, PDFA, once again takes a problem that largely belongs to adults and shifts the focus onto the younger teen set. Fortunately, there's a new line of commercials out, and I'm told, we're all "above the influence."

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

1 comment:

Joe Bartlett said...

How exactly does direct-to-consumer drug advertising fit into Mr. Pasierb's vision of a "drug-free America"? The fact that our government approves such advertising exposes the hypocrisy of the War on Drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are hard at work developing and marketing psychoactive drugs designed primarily to make people feel good; the only difference between Phizer and and your local pot dealer is that Phizer can afford to employ hundreds of lobbyists and make multimillion dollar campaign contributions.

I agree with you, Dan; the distinction between the sort of drug use that the article describes and the sort of use that our government pejoratively labels as "recreational" is bogus. But far be it from the PDFA to pass up an opportunity to spout more alarmist rhetoric; never mind the fact that the sort of drug use they're decrying is precisely the sort of use that direct-to-consumer marketing actually encourages.

On an unrelated note, since it worked so well for Jonathon, I'm not above shameless plugs for admin privileges. So how's about it? Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!