Friday, November 13, 2009

I Repeat, Thank God for Drugs

(I wrote the following to someone whose friend said anti-depressants are no different than alcohol:)

Depression is, to a large degree, for many people, a physiological disability - one that can be moderated only through administering changes to the body. Your friend is discussing two approaches:

One is using a generic drug (alcohol) to cover one's problems by ignoring and suppressing them, while the other is using targeted drugs (prescribed by someone who, hopefully, has a better understanding of the big picture) to alleviate and address the actual condition that causes the depression. Alcohol causes multiple other issues, particularly since it is being self-administered. It's like using a shotgun to kill a fly without considering what else is being killed in the process. The difference is simple and clear and important.

As gently as I can say this, your friend's concern comes across as an attempt to justify her choice of drug rather than an attempt to deal properly with whatever is causing her to drink. If I were you, I would suggest to her that she should let someone who can address the actual symptoms help her. "Self-medicating" is rarely a good idea; it's much better to use prescribed drugs (in the vast majority of cases addressing depression) than it is to try to drink away the depression - for many reasons.

To those who cannot understand why Mormons would (I believe, should) use prescription drugs, I would say, "Depression is a natural result of the Fall - of mortality - for many. We are commanded to strive to overcome the natural (wo)man. We are NOT commanded to do it on our own, as individuals, without the help of medical advances. Why would we not use those advances?"

A friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia a couple of years ago. My second son has Type I diabetes. Almost everyone would call them completely stupid if they refused the chemo and insulin and other treatment medicine now can provide. Depression is NO different; not a bit. Anyone who chastises someone for taking prescribed anti-depressants just doesn't get it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I had a good friend that was dealing with severe depression and (probably) bi-polar disorder. I never understood why he thought he could just "think" his way out of his problems.

I said to him, essentially, what you stated - I have a heart problem, and I take a drug for it. I don't say, "I've got to just get my heart to overcome this defficiency." We don't think that, "if we put our minds to it, then our pancreas will start producing insulin."

The Lord understands the trials we face today, and has offered us many tools to overcome them - including prescription medication.

Thanks again for the post. Enlightening and uplifting as usual.

LVJACK said...

Thank you! I agree 100%.

Amanda said...

For depression or bi-polar disorder, may I recommend the use of cannabis, which is much safer than any of the prescription drugs used to treat these disorders.

How safe is it? This is what D.E.A. Administrative Law Judge Francis Young had to say after reviewing all available data:

"In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating ten raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death.

Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care."

This is also in harmony with D&C 42, the law of the Church, which counsels us to use medicinal herbs to treat our disorders.

"And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy."

Cannabis works.

Papa D said...

Amanda, while I don't disagree totally with your comment, I cannot encourage the use of illegal substances - publicly on my blog or privately in person. I also cannot encourage self-medication of marijuana, especially since I knew a number of friends in college who used it regularly for non-medicinal purposes. I know there is a HUGE difference in recreational and medical use, but I cannot endorse its use in any situation where it is illegal or not controlled by a medical professional.

Papa D said...

I should add that too often advocates of marijuana do not talk about it as one component of "a supervised routine of medical care". I also should note that I cannot endorse using it outside of such a supervised routine to treat someone who is bi-polar or depressive.

Just like the example of alcohol in the original post, it will only mask the symptoms temporarily - not address the underlying cause of the concern.

Amanda said...

Papa D,

Medical marijuana is legal in 13 states, so you would would not be advocating an illegal substance in those areas.

Not to mention, prescription drugs are often used illegally, so what's the difference between advocating a substance that is sometimes illegal, and advocating for another substance that is sometimes illegal?

Marijuana works, and I challenge you to find a safer medicine. A medicine with a better LD-50 rating, or one with a better therapeutic ratio.

The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage fifty percent of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity, and the therapeutic ratio defines the difference between a therapeutically effective dose and a dose which is capable of inducing adverse effects.

Good luck!

Papa D said...

Amanda, please re-read my responses.

I was very careful to make sure I said exactly what I meant - and I didn't condemn the use where it is legal and when it is prescribed or supervised as part of a medical routine. I simply was clarifying that "too often" it is touted as almost a cure all that is fine to use outside of a supervised medical routine.

Anonymous said...

Really useful clarification,Papa.It's taken me too long to come to similar conclusions,and very much against the grain of my education and past training.I think it's now a more digested position which i can hold with others.