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Drugs: the Solution to Our Problems

OvermedicationWhy then do we continue to take drugs, especially in an age when our body is being given the maximal opportunity to develop immunity and strength at countering the conventional microbial infections?

OvermedicationToday we hear justifications for why there is a need to prescribe something for any ailment under the sun. In fact, as time goes on, we are hearing of a rise in prescription medication across the world for all kinds of conditions, many of those which were considered almost negligible only a few years ago. But herein lays the paradox. We are in an age where medical advancements have excelled far beyond what our forefathers could have ever imagined. Infection control standards have been raised and cross contamination reduced considerably. Literally, we are living the dream. Our immune systems are today “bulletproof” when it comes to conditions like tooth infections, infections considered fatal through the early part of the last century.

At a time of such improvements in healing and recovery prospects, why then do we continue to take drugs, especially in an age when our body is being given the maximal opportunity to develop immunity and strength at countering the conventional microbial infections? It doesn’t end there: drugs are prescribed today at higher doses for some conditions than ever before. So not only are we being “overmedicated” (OM) but “overdosed” (OD) as well! Some possible reasons behind this are explored.

 Allah has promised in the Qur’an that there is no illness or condition for which a cure does not exist. We must always remember that human beings are amongst the elite of God’s Creation (Ashraf al-Makhlooqat). Our bodies are complex feats of engineering, provided the best of parts for operation in this world. If ever there is any malfunction with any of its parts, i.e. organs, the body has an inherent and uncanny capacity to self-correct the localized defect wherever it may be in the system. This would suggest that the immune system must be given all opportunities to self-correct the pathology (if and when it occurs), without jumping to drugs and prescriptions from our doctors.

Despite restrictive legislation, anyone can pretty much order any potion as a remedy off the Internet today. With bogus practitioners, voodoo artists, and all kinds of magicians practicing out there, vigilance is required at all times when it comes to what we take. Not every kind of drug will be beneficial for all of us. What we need to realize is that drugs are foreign substances and will always have adverse reactions, some good, others bad. Aside from the latter, there is also the concern that our bodies are all different in one way or another and will thus respond variably to the effect of a drug. People from different ethnicities will also show differences in drug responses.

One major reason as to why we have come to OD and OM ourselves is possibly due to successful marketing by drug companies. Pharmaceutical companies have traditionally been viewed with suspicion by members of the public and rightly so. Physicians are frequently invited to feast on expensive lunches by drug reps in the hope their latest drugs on the market will be promoted by Dr. Doolittle and his nurse. Patients often end up being suckered into paying for the drugs, often without being advised of the risk/benefits of the substance they’re prescribed.

Another common reason for over-prescription is litigation. Physicians are often known to prescribe medications out of fear of being sued. Doctors are at times at the mercy of their patients, which is sad when one goes into depth behind the issue. The perception is that if a patient is “not given something to take”, (s)he may feel “the doctor didn’t really do anything”. In fact, they have offered the patient the best option of “letting nature take its course” and allowing the immune system to fight off infections by itself rather than “helping it”. Lawyers lick their lips when they hear of clients badmouthing their physicians on this issue. Hence, sadly out of fear of being declared negligent and malpractice lawsuits, physicians are forced to prescribe medications, and in this way, indirectly contribute to over-dependence on drugs.

OM and OD could also have serious ramifications that we often don’t even hear about. The over-prescription of antibiotics and their use in livestock harvesting is worrying. Conditions eradicated in the past are now making a comeback due to the overuse of antibiotics. Bacterial diseases with more resistant strains are emerging, which are becoming difficult to treat. People are falling sick to conditions which were previously considered non-terminal. Therefore, to counter this threat of re-emerging diseases, we must decrease the unnecessary use of antibiotics. Failure to do so may mean we have less in our armoury to tackle deadly strains of bacteria.

So in light of the above, are we to stop taking all medications? Obviously not. Medication for situations like diabetes, asthma, or cardiovascular conditions is absolutely essential. The key is to stop taking medications for cases which our body is capable of responding to “normally” i.e. by itself. By dosing ourselves on cold and flu tablets is doing our immune system no favors whatsoever. So it’s time to set aside our spoon feeding mentality, and as some would put it, “suck it up” for a little while. If there is no response from our bodies, and we find ourselves getting worse, maybe then we should consider visiting a doctor. And always remember: Ask if in doubt.

“The eye does not see what the mind does not know!”

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4 comments

  1. A succint, well written, summary our over-medicated culture, Rehan. I think to choose anitibiotics as your target was brave though, for their fundamental role in the development of humanity (through its survival!) is unquestionable. You’re right: they are often overprescribed and patients perhaps too demanding for them. I also agree that patient education is essential. Most infections are viral and self-limiting. Pitching up to your doctor on day 1 of a runny nose makes no sense.

    Our society, over generations, has moved away from being centred around duties to rights instead. This in turn has created a sense of entitlement. Wanting something now equates to deserving it. Fluctuations from the perceived norm are tolerated less and less. The antidepressant market may have been a juicier target for the article. In previous times, conditions such as grief, loneliness, low mood, shyness etc were accepted as various manifestations of the human condition. Now they are increasingly unacceptable. This is where the bigger problem lies. We are no longer willing, or expected, to live the full spectrum of human emotion.

  2. Salaam, please take your antibiotics for infections!!! It is very important because a bacterial infection of the throat or urinary tract, etc… can turn dangerous very very fast. Trust me, I have learned and seen enough in medical school to know that if your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, it is for good reason.

    Allah Knows Best

  3. Very well written though, jazakallah khayr!!! I really really enjoyed it, and for the most part, it’s true, many many infections like colds and flus do not need any medicine what so ever…

  4. jazakAllah for the kind words to you all. The problem remains that no matter how much pt education is reinforced, the bulk of the message fails to geth through. Antibiotics and Infections should be countered with our immune systems, not synthetic substitutes!

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