Prescription Drug Use at Record High for Americans

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Americans, among the most medicated peoples in the world, are
swallowing more pills than ever, according to a report released
by the U.S. government.

A total of 44% of Americans had taken at least one prescription
drug in the prior month when surveyed in 1999 and 2000, compared
to 39% during the 1988-1994 period, according to the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services.

One in six adults was taking three or more drugs at the end of
the decade, compared to about one in 10 in the late 1980s and
early 1990s.

The popularity of antidepressants, anti-inflammatories and drugs
designed to control cholesterol and blood sugar levels helped
fuel increased prescription use among all adult age groups.

In the case of antidepressants, prescription use among adults
nearly tripled between the 1988-1994 and 1999-2000 periods. 10%
of adult women and 4% of men now take these drugs.

There is growing concern about the safety of prescription drugs.
The blockbuster arthritis drug Vioxx was recently withdrawn from
the market after a study showed it increased the risk of heart of
heart attack and stroke in some people. And, a recent analysis by
the US Food and Drug Administration suggested a link between some
antidepressants and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children
and teenagers.

There are fears in public health circles that the growing
tendency of Americans, especially seniors, to have more than one
prescription in their medicine cabinet could lead to a surge in
unfavorable drug interactions. Almost half of those 65 years and
older take three or more prescription medicines.

The continued rapid increase in drug consumption is alarming. You
would think that since we are by far the most heavily medicated
country in the world, we would also be the healthiest. Yet the
U.S. is not even close to being the healthiest country. People in
other countries consume far fewer drugs yet those people are as
healthy or healthier than Americans.

Whether we actually need all the drugs we are taking is an open
question. If you’re taking drugs on a regular basis, we think
it’s time to ask yourself, “why am I taking these drugs?”

You need to understand that virtually all drugs have “side
effects”, meaning that they do potential harm as well as good.
Are the drugs you’re taking doing more good than harm? How do you
know? If you’re taking more than one medication, do you know if
they are interacting with each other?

If you don’t want to take so many drugs, what can you do? Dietary
and lifestyle improvements are well-known ways to reduce
dependence on drugs. In some cases, nutritional supplements
without side effects are just as effective as prescription

Call one of our clinics if you would like to explore ways to make
changes to your diet or lifestyle that may allow you to reduce
your dependence on medications.

Source: Health, United States, 2004, With Chartbook on Trends in
the Health of Americans, December 2004, US Dept. of Human and
Health Services