A NATION OF ZOMBIES
By Mary Starrett
Octomber 9, 2003
Commentator Rush Limbaugh stands accused. So does NBA player Damon Stoudamire and countless other Americans- some who are even serving prison sentences for possession, sale or use of drugs.
I say it's time to end the "war" on the users and start recognizing who's really to blame.
Both Rush and Damon, like countless others in the past (Edgar Allan Poe comes to mind- an Opium addict for many years) perhaps use (d) drugs, became dependent but still made it in to work each day. Drug dependence, while a potentially lethal habit should not be deemed "illegal" any more than dependence on alcohol or nicotine should be considered a crime.
Consider, that while America sits in judgment of these two men as well as those who have actually been incarcerated on drug charges, the use of antidepressants has increased 73% since 1998. Ask around- chances are good you or any number of your friends or relatives are now taking medication to help with "depression". Thanks to increased marketing campaigns Americans are now running to their doctors in droves for a little something to help them "cope". (This in no means is an attempt to minimize this enormously painful condition. Depression is very real and extremely debilitating.)
Following the removal of a ban on direct-to- consumer advertising we are continually hit with a barrage of ads on TV, in newspapers and in magazines. Your doctor's probably encouraged you to start taking these drugs even though the side effects can be horrendous- just read the package inserts for partial mention of them.
Primary care physicians now write more than 60% of all antidepressant scripts.
This past Sunday's PARADE Magazine contains an article on depression, written by regular columnist Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld. It contains the orthodox diatribe about how psychiatric medication is good for what ails us. The fact is, most physicians, pharmacists and it would appear the FDA, as well, haven't bothered to do the serious due diligence on the potential danger of these drugs. Simply reading the package inserts for these medications will tell you more than your doctor bothers to.
For instance, in this same issue of PARADE (coincidentally?) there are full page ads for the psychiatric medications Effexor and Wellbutrin. Their own literature lists some of the damning reasons why we should just say "no" to these types of drugs.
Effexor's small print warnings mention the side effects which could include "nervousness, abnormal vision, agitation, confusion and insomnia". Stopping the drug could cause "seizures, agitation, confusion, tremors, electric shock sensations and nightmares". Another ad for a similar drug, Wellbutrin, several pages into the same PARADE magazine, shows an elegant, well-dressed woman and the caption " I'm feeling good".
Apparently she hasn't figured out what could happen should she try and get off her magic pills. The package insert warns of "agitation, anxiety, high blood pressure and UNUSUAL THOUGHTS OR BEHAVIORS."
Time to connect the dots here. Keep track of violent crimes in America and more often than not those who've committed inexplicably bizarre and senseless acts of violence or near-violence had been on or were currently on psychiatric medications like those you see advertised and have likely been encouraged to take. Note that these people did not act out violently before they took these drugs for "depression".
Andrea Yates, the woman convicted of drowning her children, Eric Harris, one of the Columbine killers and Kip Kinkel all had taken these types of drugs. ( Harris had stopped taking Luvox -a Prozac-like drug).
This Thursday, October 9th, has been set aside as "National Depression Screening Day". It's a "free" screening, where, no doubt, other treatments for depression aside from powerful drugs won't get a mention.
A lesser known, but growing body of information links nutritional deficiencies and medical causes to severe depression  But, since physicians and pharmaceutical companies don't make any money when consumers go the natural route, you hear little about them. For instance, heavy metal toxicity (like mercury in amalgam fillings)  and vitamin B 12 deficiencies have been linked to depression and mood swings. The medical/pharmaceutical professionals who push drugs for profit will never spend a day in jail. But the unwitting dupes who fall for the lie that depression can only be treated with powerful brain-altering, behavior-changing chemicals are the real victims here.
We've become a nation of drug addicts. It's bad enough we medicate ourselves into oblivion, but to make matters worse we now put our kids on what can only be described as "kiddie crack"- powerful analeptics like Adderall and Ritalin which have been shown to lead to other drug addictions in adulthood. According to the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, the use of psychiatric drugs for kids has doubled since 1996. Note that these Schedule II drugs are in the same category as cocaine, barbiturates and methamphetamines-- in other words drugs with the highest potential for addiction and abuse.
Depressed? Take a pill. All better now. Kid acting up? Give him a drug which can stunt his growth and cause serious side effects. 
It seems there's always a new "disorder" out there, doesn't it? Sunday's paper also carried a full page ad for AndroGel as part of a media blitz of TV and print ads about yet another health crisis in America . Apparently men are now woefully deficient in TESTOSTERONE! Yes, now this new drug, rubbed on the skin will make that problem a thing of the past. What the handsome guy in the red convertible who appears in the ads fails to mention is that this handy gel can cause men to GROW BREASTS which may secrete milk. This is known as gynecomastia . Probably not the effect most men are after. Mr. Red Convertible also doesn't mention that taking Testosterone can lead to prostate problems and…. Hold on…DEPRESSION! Well, not to worry, there're lots of little pills to fix that. And hold on! The rub-it-on testosterone- if it gets on a woman can cause "virilization of the female partner".
Oh, and guys who take AndroGel may see more acne, prostate problems and have "persistent erections of the penis". My, my. Will men find out too late ( as so many women did who bought into Estrogen Replacement Therapy) that the normal ebb and flow of sex hormones exists for a reason and that maybe, just maybe the Creator had a clue or two about how His design would function best?
It's high time we acknowledge we are a nation of druggies. The so-called "war on drugs" is a waste of over $12 billion a year. It's an expensive war and we're fighting the wrong enemy.
 Unimed Pharmaceuticals Inc, 2002, Brief Summary, Adverse Effects, Table 1.
Suggested Reading: "Your Drug May Be Your Problem"/ Breggin, Peter, M.D. "Natural Highs"/ Cass, Hyla, M.D.
© 2003 Mary Starrett - All Rights Reserved
Mary Starrett was on television for 21 years as a news anchor, morning talk show host and medical reporter. For the last 5 years she hosted a radio program. Mary is a frequent guest on radio talk shows. E-Mail M123STAR@aol.com
"Time to connect the dots here. Keep track of violent crimes in America and more often than not those who've committed inexplicably bizarre and senseless acts of violence or near-violence had been on or were currently on psychiatric medications like those you see advertised and have likely been encouraged to take."