Popular Posts

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Peripatetic Philosopher shares the wisdom of another author:

What do we know about DRUGS?

© September 17, 2017


It is rare for me to site another writer’s work in this blog although it is common for me to mention the work of others.  This is the exception and it is being reprinted here with the author’ approval.

When I was young, everyone from teenagers on seemed to smoke.  People smoked in the movies, in the grocery stores, in the college classrooms, in the athletic stadiums, in the shopping centers, on trains, buses and airplanes, in doctors’ offices, in deed, my family physician had a cigarette burning in an ashtray in every room of his clinic.  Both my parents smoked cigarettes, and when relatives visited our tiny home, which was every week, they smoked as well while drinking coffee and eating fudge cake. 

On my high school campus at lunchtime, a football player was caught by the football coach smoking and he was kicked off the football team although a varsity starter.  None of my teammates in football, basketball, track or baseball in high school smoked to my knowledge leastwise not in my presence. 

When I was in service and a hospital corpsman on the flagship of the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, everyone smoked including the doctor except myself.   

The other drug of choice was booze.  My da had been something of a boozer when I was young but neither he nor my mother drank while I was growing up, which I found strange in retrospect.  Several of my uncles were notorious boozers but the rest of the relatives were not, which I found equally strange. 

On my ship when I was in the US Navy, it was routine for sailors to get smashed when we had liberty in some European port.  Having seen what booze had done to my relatives, I never developed an interest in boozing in high school, college or the military, preferring while in Europe to go on tours and gain an appreciation of my European heritage, especially my Roman Catholic heritage. 

My reason for not smoking or drinking had nothing to do with religious conviction but more to do with my egoistic paranoia for needing to be always in control of my mental faculties.  It was not difficult to avoid these narcotics because I didn’t like the smell of cigarettes or booze on a person as I’ve always had an exaggerated olfactory sensitivity.

Not once while growing up or even into my mature years did I encounter cannabis or marijuana.  It was not until I retired the first time in my mid-thirties and returned to university to seek a Ph.D. that I discovered it was the drug of choice of many students much younger than I was.  This was during the time when the American Red Cross was launching a concerted effort against the mortal danger of cigarette smoking.  Students were apparently giving up one weed for another weed, marijuana. 

All the other narcotics that author Ken Shelton alludes to in this piece were not only beyond the pale of my experience, I had no interest in learning about them. 

He speaks of addictions and if I have had an addiction it has been coffee.  Since I was a child, I have been drinking coffee.  Up until April 2017, I drank ten cups of coffee a day, or a complete ten-cup coffee maker.  In April I quit drinking coffee “cold turkey” as I have increasingly experienced canker sores in my mouth which is quite unnerving. 

Reading about causes of this irritant, I have also given up other acid producing foods as oranges, onions, lemons, apples (which I love) and associated juices.  I’ve never been interested in and therefore never addicted to soft carbonated drinks whether they are caffeine and sugar free or not, and so it has not been hard to avoid these acid producers. 

What I haven’t given up, which is an over the counter drug, Excedrin, as I’m never too far removed from a headache as they have plagued me all my life.

As you read Ken Shelton’s missive, before you become defensive, take inventory of where you are now and how you got to be there with reference to the substances to which he references.  Are you addicted to them, and if so, why?    

Over the last seventy years, or since WWII, we have been quietly and systematically dominated by corporate society in which progress is its most important product. 

To keep this spiral of ever increasing progress still in corporate control, be it in the medical, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, political or economic realm, addictions have been unwittingly promulgated by the media through advertisements, film, talk shows, news media programs and contemporary dramas.  Then, paradoxically, these specific industries combat such excesses by generating new addictions in retaliation.  No one seems to mind the absurdity of this as there is seemingly little interest in changed behavior.

Virtually all addictions have a medicinal justification and social psychological profile.  Even tobacco was once imported as a medicine.         

Moderation in all things including drugs over the counter is the byline of this piece.  Where do you stand?

Apothecary of Apathy

Like Romeo we may take a drug and die.

By Ken Shelton
© September 17, 2017

We, like Romeo, may die from taking the drugs of apothecary as results range from apathy to addiction and death.

Ken Shelton, author, publisher and keynote speaker

I see in today’s massive drug industry (big pharma) a parallel to the old practice of apothecary—and the result, then and now, is the same: induced apathy.

Apathy suggests an absence of purpose, passion, emotion, self-worth, meaning or joie de vivre (French phrase joy of living used to express a cheerful enjoyment of life, an exultation of spirit, and a joy of anything or everything). Apathy results in indifference, insensitivity or insensibility —a lack of pathos, feeling, emotion, concern, excitement or interest in emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical, or physical life and the world.

An apothecary is a medical professional who formulates and dispenses drugs. The modern pharmacy and pharmacist (pharmacology industry) have assumed this role from the ancient apothecary’s use of herbal and chemical ingredients. In addition to dispensing medicines, the apothecary offered medical advice and services now performed by specialists, and in 1600s England apothecary shops also controlled the trade of tobacco (imported as a medicine). As a profession, apothecary dates back to 2,600 BC to Babylon.

I recall the line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “O true apothecary!” Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.” With these words, Romeo dies (doomed love). The lovers, belonging to families of Verona long at war with each other, have secretly married and wish to run away. Juliet has taken a potion that allows her to feign death, planning to wake up and run off with her Romeo. Unfortunately, Romeo believes Juliet is really dead, and so buys poison from an apothecary. Standing over her body in the crypt, Romeo drinks the quick-acting poison, kisses Juliet’s lips, and falls to the floor, dead.

Like Romeo we may take a drug and die, or live half dead in apathy. For example, we may partake of “medicinal marijuana” (cannabis) now proscribed by doctors for their patients even though its use as a medicine is not well tested. Yes, cannabis can reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, improve appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and reduce chronic pain and muscle spasms. However, short-term use boosts the risk of both minor and major adverse side effects, including dizziness, fatigue, vomiting, and hallucinations. Long-term effects include memory and cognition problems, schizophrenia and risk of abuse and addiction.

Medications having psychoactive (mind-altering) properties are often abused—taken for reasons or in ways or amounts not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone other than the person for whom they are prescribed. In fact, prescription and over-the-counter drugs are, after marijuana and alcohol/tobacco, the most commonly abused substances. Prescription drugs most commonly abused are: opioid pain relievers, such as Vicodin® or Oxycontin®; stimulants for treating ADHD, such as Adderall®, Concerta®, or Ritalin®; and central nervous system (CNS) depressants for relieving anxiety, such as Valium® or Xanax®. The most commonly abused OTC drugs are cough and cold remedies containing dextromethorphan.

People often think that prescription and OTC drugs are safer than illicit drugs, but they can be as addictive and dangerous and put users at risk for other adverse health effects, including overdose—especially when taken along with other drugs or alcohol. Before prescribing drugs, doctors should consider the patient’s health conditions, current and prior drug use, and other medicines to assess the risks and benefits.

When prescription and OTC drugs are taken in different quantities or when symptoms aren’t present, they may affect the brain in ways similar to illicit drugs. For example, stimulants such as Ritalin® act on the same neurotransmitter systems as cocaine. Opioid pain relievers such as OxyContin® attach to the same cell receptors targeted by illegal opioids like heroin.

Prescription depressants produce sedating or calming effects similar to the club drugs GHB and Rohypnol®. And when taken in high doses, dextromethorphan acts on the same cell receptors as PCP or ketamine, producing similar out-of-body experiences.

When abused, these drugs directly or indirectly cause a pleasurable increase in dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway. Repeatedly seeking to experience that feeling leads to addiction.

Opioids can produce drowsiness, cause constipation, and depress breathing, making opioids dangerous, especially when snorted or injected or combined with other drugs or alcohol.

Depressed respiration affects the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, causing hypoxia, which has psychological and neurological effects, including coma and permanent brain damage. More people die from overdoses of prescription opioids than from all other drugs combined, including heroin and cocaine.

Stimulants have strong effects on the cardiovascular system. Taking high doses of a stimulant dangerously raises body temperature and can cause irregular heartbeat, even heart failure or seizures, hostility or paranoia. CNS depressants slow brain activity and can cause sleepiness and loss of coordination. Continued use can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms if discontinuing use. All of these drugs have the potential for addiction, especially when abused. Also, abuse of prescription and OTC drugs can alter one’s judgment and decision making, leading to dangerous behaviors such as unsafe sex and drugged driving.

Nearly all medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, have some undesirable and sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. All kinds of prescription drugs and medications, from those that are considered “all natural” to those that are chemically produced in a laboratory, carry some undesirable or dangerous side effects, including deadly cancer, fatal heart attacks, allergic reactions, anaphylactic responses, stroke, and suicidal thoughts or actions. Many drugs can be physically and emotionally debilitating, including causing total or partial paralysis, severe pain, headaches, stomachaches, joint and muscle pain and decreased control over bodily functions. Problems related to the heart, including heart attacks, congestive heart failure, lifelong heart damage and cardiomyopathy, have been linked to many prescription drugs.

The most common side effects of any prescription drug are gastrointestinal issues, including nausea, constipation and diarrhea, because most drugs go through the digestive system to be absorbed. Other common aftereffects include drowsiness, pain and skin reactions, dizziness and falls, nausea and vomiting, dehydration, and internal bleeding.

So, why do so many people opt for drugs, with all the attendant risks, when natural remedies abound? My friend, John Hewlett, has formulated an amazing supplement, Cardio Miracle, a nitric oxide mixture that drives oxygen to every cell, with no downside.

My prescription for Romeo and all others who suffer from apathy is to forego the apothecary and most Big Pharma drugs and try a natural miracle that boosts heart and health.