Why are so many people on chronic medications?

A recent report revealed that over half of all Americans are on at least one medication on a chronic basis.  This analysis includes children and adults.

The article cites that medications for blood pressure and cholesterol are the most common.  Note that these problems are core features of the Metabolic Syndrome which is already at epidemic levels and steadily worsening.

Best line of the article:

"Honestly, a lot of it is related to obesity," he said. "We've 
become a couch potato culture (and) it's a lot easier to pop a 
pill" than to exercise regularly or diet. 

Another epidemic problem is the overdiagnosis of and over-prescribing of medications for so-called ADHD.  That calls for a separate post, if I dare, but no one can argue that so many children need medication to get through a school day.  That’s flat-out ridiculous and more an indicator of a parent’s ability to teach discipline and maturity than a “disorder” of the child. 

Certainly, there is also an influence from public education.  For example, I frequently see people who have either learned about their risk for certain medical conditions or about medications that are being advertised for these conditions, and this bit of awareness prompts them to initiate a discussion about it. 

There’s room for a long, complicated discussion about the necessity and ethics of pharmaceutical products being used on this scale.  As mentioned previously, I encourage patients to minimize their use of medications by addressing the important health factors

People want quick fixes, and especially easy fixes.  It still amazes me, yes, but people are far more willing to pay $30-100 / month and subject themselves to risk of liver disease, muscle injury, electrolyte depletion, and other side effects than to devote themselves to a regimen of healthy eating and regular physical activity to achieve the same results.

This report also begs the question: why are the doctors prescribing so much medication?  Aside from the obvious increase in chronic medical conditions like hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes; the philosophy of the physician is put to the test when confronted with these patients, as in drug vs. fitness.

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3 Responses to “Why are so many people on chronic medications?”

  1. I am sure that there are lots of doctors who have told their patients to make lifestyle choices before it is too late and they will HAVE to go on prescription meds for the rest of their lives.

    Metabolic syndrome is a great example.

    Docs can’t make their patients do anything. At the end of the day, we are in charge of our own health.

  2. I agree.

    Unfortunately, the doctors take the heat for their patients’ apathy, in the form of pay-for-performance measures, etc.

  3. I have ADHD, and I’ve never taken meds for it, and I never will. Its plain stupid, I knew another guy who had ADHD (much worse then me though) and sure he was hyper and crazy all the time, but when he took meds he turned into one of the walking dead in minutes.

    #%@ that. I do just fine without.

    I bet the majority of people with psychological problems don’t actually need any form of medication either.

    Honestly people, pills don’t help.

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