Did you know that the average American fills approximately 12 prescriptions a year? Most of us have medicine cabinets filled with orange plastic bottles that read: Warning- Do not operate heavy machinery or drive while taking this medication. Warning labels are commonplace for prescription medications; however, they are not the only products in our medicine cabinets advising users to “proceed with caution”. A variety of common OTC products also contain similar warnings- from daily antihistamines to cough syrup.

Pill-Popping

We are living in a freewheeling, pharmaceutical-driven market. The American mindset is that if you have a problem, you take a pill. Is your blood pressure rising? There are several drugs for that. Are you having issues sleeping? Take your pick from our American array of prescribed pharmacologic solutions. Are you feeling anxious? Depressed? Not to worry- Dr. Feel Good has bottled a solution for that too.  Whether you’re regulating blood pressure or looking to alleviate insomnia, pill-popping is the American way.

I mean no offense to any individual currently (or formerly) taking medication. My point, is that America’s “alphabet soup” of medications for any and every ailment makes it impossible to eliminate all of the potentially dangerous side effects (One of these days I will write about my “Ambien driving” experience. Not an experience I would want anyone to undergo…I just wish I could remember it)!

A Growing Concern

Recently, there has been a lot of debate regarding how an employer handles “marijuana” use in the workplace, along with a growing concern regarding its potentially negative impact on employee performance. Most of this concern is being generated from businesses located within the current 29 states that have some form of legalized cannabis use. As such, many of these companies have instituted a “zero drug-use” policy.

I can appreciate where this concern is coming from; especially if the majority of a company’s workforce involves manufacturing or use of machinery; yet, how quickly the “concerned” business owner forgets about the warning labels covering multiple products found in their at-home medicine cabinets.

According to government statistics, approximately 1 to 5 Americans take some type of psychiatric drug. In laymen terms, roughly 75 million Americans are having their brain chemistry tweaked on a regular or as-needed basis. Most of these drugs fall into the class of drugs known as SSRI’s (serotonin reuptake inhibiters); not to include sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics (Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Xanax, Valium, Ambien etc.). Many side effects a prescribed user could expect after using any of these medications are just as bad (if not worse) than the most extreme side effects associated with cannabis use.

I have yet to mention alcohol.  According to the CDC, alcohol poisoning kills six people daily. Think about that for a moment. As a business owner, you should know that 100,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes (drinking and driving crashes, other accidents, falls, fires, alcohol-related homicides and suicides (NCAAD).

One would think that such policies are established as a safety measure; however, there is always a flip side. Companies that institute a “zero use” drug policy also experience a significant cost reduction on their worker’s compensation premiums.

Side Effects

Taking any medications on a regular basis will eventually give birth to some side effects. The reason there are so many side effects with antidepressants, is due to the lack of understanding about how antidepressants, and depression, affect the brain. It can be very different from case to case; and drug companies have already admitted that they don’t know everything regarding how prescribed medications and drugs work.

In January of this year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine pre-released a detailed report summarizing the implications of over 10,000 cannabis-related studies, entitled: The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. The 440-page review, represents  insights from 16 leading neurologists, epidemiologists, oncologists, and child psychiatrists in a range of institutions; all of whom recognized a need for greater understanding regarding the use of a drug humans have been using for more than a millennia. All research concluded that cannabis offers relief for patients dealing with chronic pain, spasms and pain related to multiple sclerosis, and nausea resulting from chemotherapy.

Until the U.S. Government reschedules marijuana as something other than a Schedule 1 drug (no different than heroin, cocaine, LSD or Methamphetamine), it will continue to be associated with more inherently dangerous substances that have greater potential for abuse and no accepted form of medicinal use.

About Jack

Titan Group DEA Retired Special Agent Jack Teitelman

I must make a disclaimer: I have been using drugs, buying drugs, investigating drugs, studying drugs for the past 32 years. I am a self-professed expert in all things drugs. 26 years with the DEA, combined with personal experience taking pain pills for a bad back gives me a perspective that is quite unique. Nothing in books or on TV can prepare one to deal with the devastating issues that surround drug addiction. Titan’s mission is to educate not only doctors and pharmacists, but the other side as well, in hopes that together we can end the story of opioid addiction once and for all.

 

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