Sunday, July 16, 2006

25% of French Take Psychoactive Drugs

Telegraph | Les Bleus drive a quarter of French to the pill bottle I find this interesting, because they are always telling us how to live.
The depth of despair to which France has descended is revealed in a new study into the use of mood-altering medication. It found that doctors prescribed an unprecedented 120 million boxes of mood-altering drugs, known as psychotropes, including anti-depressants, sleeping tablets and tranquillisers.
In a study, patients got perscriptions 82% of the time, even though the doctors spend only an average of 8 minutes with patients. None of these doctors - GPs - had psychiatric training.

Not only is this costing the French health service 1 billion euros annually, it doesn't seem to be helping the population.
Medical experts question the efficacy of such drugs, since France also has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's latest figures for 1999 show 17.5 out of every 100,000 French take their own lives every year, compared with 10.4 Americans, 7.1 Italians and 7.5 Britons.
The researcher who conducted the study has the best observation:
"I was shocked to discover how we are such big users of these medicines," said Prof B├ęgaud.

"I think the level of use of these drugs is an indication of the malaise in our civilisation. If I was a politician I would look at these figures and say there is something really wrong in France."
One thing wrong - which is NOT limited to France - is the way these drugs are pushed through the medical profession. Doctors who are spending an average of 8 minutes with patients should not be prescribing psychoactive drugs to people.

But the other problem is with the people themselves. When did it become the case that everyone was supposed to be happy all the time? Life is hard, and at times very hard. While I don't doubt that some people with long-term depression can be helped with drugs, someone who is in a job they hate, having relationship troubles, just lost a loved one, etc. is probably not going to be happy until they get a new job (or come to terms with why they are in this job - to support a family or whatever...), work on their relationships, work through their grief, etc. I find it hard to believe that 25% of the population needs chemical support to get through the day. A magic pill is not going to make all of their problems go away. People no longer want to do the hard work that life requires. Life is full of beauty and joy and wonder. It also hurts a lot of the time. People want to live in the TV universe, where all problems are fixed in 54 minutes - before the final commercial break.

Although this study focuses on France, I do not believe that the problem is uniquely French. Of course I don't think this study will change anything in France or anywhere else... I especially don't think it will cause France to stop telling the rest of the world how to live, even though it doesn't look like they have the grasp on "the good life" that they like to pretend they do.

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